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Can mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines fix Australia’s rollout problem?



COVID-19 vaccine.

Mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines is gaining momentum.

As countries around the world continue to rollout their COVID-19 vaccine programs, some nations have been slowed by supply disruptions or vaccine hesitancy. But experts believe mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines could be the solution.

Dr John Hart is a medical epidemiologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. He said people can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose, then Pfizer or Moderna as the second dose.

“Many countries around the world, like Australia, have recommended that people in younger age groups don’t receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“There’s a study from Spain where people received their first dose of AstraZeneca and then receiving a second dose of Pfizer.

It appears that these people have a stronger immune response than if they received two doses of the AstraZeneca,” he explained.

Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are among the countries that are advising mixed vaccination schedules.

“They produce more antibodies and we think this would be more effective at preventing disease,” Dr Hart said.

Is it safe?

A UK study was published last month. It followed 830 adults who received the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines first, then the other at a later date.

The research found that people with mixed doses were likely to develop some mild symptoms. However, the reactions did not last long and no other concerns were raised.

“Every country in the world wants these vaccines and there’s going to be a limited supply for some time,” Dr Hart said.

“If we’re able to give one vaccine thats readily available and one that’s available later because of disruptions to supply chain, then I think that could be beneficial.”

But vaccine schedules may require modification in the near future, as booster shots rollout. However, researchers believe this is typical for vaccine programs as new evidence comes to light.

Last month, the European Union secured a record number of Pfizer-BioTech vaccines. But the World Health Organisation has criticised the global community for vaccine inequity.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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