After the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist cautioned that it was a “dangerous trend” not backed by data, Thailand justified mixing two distinct COVID-19 vaccinations to combat a surge in infections. With cases and deaths soaring and the healthcare system pushed thin, the kingdom is battling to contain its latest outbreak, which is being fueled by the extremely contagious Delta form.
Authorities said they’ll combine a first dose of the Sinovac vaccine manufactured in China with a second dosage of AstraZeneca to try to generate a “booster” effect in six weeks rather than 12.
This might be conceivable, according to Thailand’s senior virologist, Yong Poovorawan, by mixing an inactivated virus vaccine, Sinovac, with a viral vector vaccine, such as AstraZeneca.
“In this outbreak, where the disease is spreading quickly, we can’t wait 12 weeks for a booster effect,” he said. “However, if better, improved vaccines become available in the future, we will find a better method to manage the situation.”
His remarks come a day after Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, described the plan as a “hazardous trend.”
“In terms of mix-and-match,’ we’re in a kind of a data-free, evidence-free zone,” she added.
More than 353,700 coronavirus infections and 2,847 deaths have been reported in Thailand, with the majority of them occurring since the newest wave began in April in an upmarket Bangkok entertainment zone.
Healthcare professionals were the first in line for Sinovac, but authorities reported approximately 900 medical employees acquired COVID-19 on Sunday, despite the fact that the majority of them had already received the vaccine. Authorities say they will now receive a booster dose from AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech.
Hotspot for viruses Bangkok and nine other hard-hit regions now face stricter restrictions, including a nighttime curfew and a prohibition on gatherings of more than five individuals.
Premier Prayut Chan-O-administration Cha’s has come under fire for its handling of the pandemic, with claims ranging from vaccination mishandling to a lack of government compensation for affected industries. His cabinet approved a 30 billion baht ($920 million) rehabilitation scheme on Tuesday to help firms affected by the severe restrictions in Bangkok and nine other provinces, including retail, entertainment, and construction.
The cabinet also announced that residential utility bills, including water and electricity, will be reduced for two months.