WHO Says Mix and Match Strategy to Be a Dangerous Trend

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WHO Chief Swaminathan says that mixing and matching of covid vaccines is a dangerous trend

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic led to many companies using their technology and resources to come out with proper cures to end the virus. And though the virus seems to keep multiplying and taking the shape of different variants, these manufacturers have made sure that they keep launching more refined versions of their vaccines. There seems to be just one problem: the daily rise in covid patients, which results in a shortage of vaccines. To solve this problem, many manufactures came out with mixing and matching vaccines.

‘Mixing and Matching’ an excellent ploy to tackle COVID?

Mixing and matching vaccines refer to using two different vaccines for two different dosages, which other companies are manufacturing. The mix and match are done due to a lack of vaccinations or certain vaccines not being available in a particular area. There can be various reasons, and it may even seem like a good idea because both the vaccinations are being made for the same thing – creating antibodies to fight coronavirus. But the recent statement by WHO criticizes the use of such techniques by local people according to their wishes.

In an online briefing, the World Health Organization Chief Dr Soumya Swaminathan said, “It will be a chaotic situation in countries if citizen starts deciding when and who will be taking a second and third and a fourth dose.” Dr Swaminathan clarified that more mixing and matching data on health impact would be required before making it a standard practice against the fight of the deadly virus around the world.

Later on, Tuesday, WHO clarified Dr Swaminathan’s statement that they already have some data available concerning mixing and matching covid-19 vaccines, and more data will soon be available to them. The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts of WHO in June has given the signal to use Pfizer vaccine in place of AstraZeneca as the second dose only if it is not available. In the developments relating to matters of mix and match, Dr Angela Rasmussen, the research scientist and virologist at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), recently made headlines.

Dr Angela gets two different vaccine jabs.

Dr Angela tweeted about how she had taken two different doses from different manufacturers. She got Johnson and Johnson’s shot in April and went on to take a second dose of Pfizer’s. She even advised people in lower vaccination zones to do the same after talking to their doctors. It is essential to mention here that Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is only of a single dose. Infectious disease experts discuss whether the people who received a single dose of Johnson and Johnson should be given another dose of Pfizer or Moderna Inc vaccines which are said to have more effective to work against the virus.

Mixing and Matching of Vaccines: An ongoing study

The University of Oxford was working on the mixing of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. Recently they also included Moderna and Novavax Inc vaccines under their mix and match project. The study aims to evaluate whether a mix and match approach, also referred to as heterologous prime-boost vaccination, is as good as the standard take of the vaccination process. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CPEI) has decided to fund this project of Oxford, for which it will be providing US$ 7.1 million. In addition to this, UK Government has also financed the project with US$ 3 million. “Data from the mix and match studies of different vaccines are awaited – immunogenicity and safety both needed to be evaluated”, said WHO in a statement.

Since WHO permitted the use of the Pfizer vaccine as a second dose to AstraZeneca due to its unavailability, several European countries had already started to give mRNA vaccine as a second dose to people who received AstraZeneca. These countries include Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Finland, France and Norway. “There’s no reason to believe that there should be a problem, but you just never know sometimes”, said Alberto Martin, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto.

A Dangerous Trend?

A new statement from WHO Chief suggests it to be a dangerous trend has come as a blow to countries way deep into using the mix and match techniques. The health experts have already warned that though the preliminary reports sound promising, there are still many unanswered questions. Further information and studies will only tell the future of the mix and match method -whether it should be used in future or banned altogether.

Punita Sinha
Punita Sinha
Hi curious minds, my name is Punita Sinha. I'm pursuing an undergraduate degree in Economics Hons. from the University of Delhi (final year) with a minor in journalism. I consider myself an avid learner and observer. Writing has always been my passion whether it's prose, poetry or articles. And I think that to be the reason for my attraction towards journalism ever since my childhood. Journalism for me is something that can bring a big difference in society through words and as a writer, I believe in the power of words more than anything. So here I'm to use this opportunity and make a change by using this power.

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