UK okays mixing doses of different COVID vaccines, raising concerns about safety, efficacy
LONDON, England, January 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Official guidance issued by the U.K. government has outlined that people receiving COVID-19 vaccines can mix the vaccines they receive. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on the other hand, had advised against this practice, stating that COVID vaccines are “not interchangeable.”
The U.K. governments document, published in November and quietly updated on New Year’s Eve, now supports the mixing of COVID vaccines, suggesting that patients could receive Pfizer’s vaccine and afterwards get the newly approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Both vaccines require two doses in the administration process.
The U.K. guidance notes, “For individuals who started the schedule and who attend for vaccination at a site where the same vaccine is not available, or if the first product received is unknown, it is reasonable to offer one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule.”
“This option is preferred if the individual is likely to be at immediate high risk or is considered unlikely to attend again,” the document adds. “In these circumstances, as both the vaccines are based on the spike protein, it is likely the second dose will help to boost the response to the first dose. For this reason, until additional information becomes available, further doses would not then be required.”
Only a few lines before, the document had encouraged that both doses be of the same vaccine, admitting that there is “no evidence on the interchangeability of the COVID-19 vaccines although studies are underway.” Notwithstanding this lack of evidence, the guidance defends its decision to mix vaccines by saying it is “reasonable” to do so.
This goes against the CDC’s advice, which states that “mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products.” Neither the “safety” nor the “efficacy” of such mixing of vaccines has been examined, the CDC notes, and thus both doses “should be completed with the same product.”
The CDC even advises that COVID-19 vaccines are not to be administered around any other vaccines, calling for a “minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine.”
Reporting on the news, The New York Times called the idea a “scientific gamble,” reminding readers of the very different composition of the two vaccines, with Pfizer’s being an mRNA vaccine, while the Oxford vaccine is DNA based. The Times also added that by mixing the various vaccines, it could be “more difficult to collect clear data on vaccine safety.”
Speaking to the Times, virologist John Moore of Cornell University said: “There are no data on this idea whatsoever,” adding that British officials “seem to have abandoned science completely now and are just trying to guess their way out of a mess.”
Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, Dr. Mary Ramsay, also warned against mixing vaccines, yet echoed the government in supporting the move if the initial vaccine could not be given for the second dose.
Moore’s words and the Times’ article sparked a reaction from the editor of the renowned British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee, who styled the news of mixing vaccines as “seriously misleading,” despite the official document clearly stating that such an event could occur.
Yet these were not the only recent surprise vaccine news to emerge from the U.K., as just a few days previously the U.K. Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) managed to change the vaccination roll-out timeline, lengthening the gap between the two jabs from around 21 days to 12 weeks.
The letter from the CMOs claimed that the initial jab “provides substantial protection within 2-3 weeks of vaccination,” and while the second jab would “likely … be very important for duration of protection,” it was unlikely to add any substantial protection to that offered by the first one.
Pfizer itself has tested its vaccine doses 21 days apart, but evidence has not been presented as to how efficacious it would be with a gap of 12 weeks between doses. However, the CMOs mentioned that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation was “confident” that 12 weeks would be a “reasonable dosing interval.”
The Chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) General Practitioners Committee, Dr. Richard Vautrey, called the change “grossly and patently unfair.” In a statement made on the BMA website, Vautrey declared, “Local leaders are telling us that is unprofessional and impractical to amend the appointments for thousands of frail elderly patients.”
While the U.K. medical officers are proceeding at rapid pace in drawing up, and changing plans for the COVID vaccine roll-out, former vice president of Pfizer, Dr. Michael Yeadon, has flatly rejected the need for vaccines.
“There is absolutely no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic,” he argued. “I’ve never heard such nonsense talked about vaccines. You do not vaccinate people who aren’t at risk from a disease. You also don’t set about planning to vaccinate millions of fit and healthy people with a vaccine that hasn’t been extensively tested on human subjects.”
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