The government and the vaccine experts are mulling a “mix and match” strategy in the national Covid-19 vaccination program in response to the delays in jab deliveries due to logistical concerns.
Secretary Carlito Galvez, the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF), said the country’s vaccine experts panel and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) are currently studying the possible mixing shots of Russia’s Sputnik V to AstraZeneca vaccines.
Galvez, also the vaccine czar, said they are expecting a delivery of 15,000 doses of Sputnik V component II allocated as second doses.
The vaccine experts have recommended a maximum dose interval of 42 days between the Sputnik V component I and component II.
Galvez, likewise, said Sputnik V’s manufacturer Gamaleya Research Institute has informed them that they might experience some delays in deliveries because of logistics issues.
“ We have discussed with vaccine cluster yesterday, the vaccine experts advise us that we can use AstraZeneca shot as the second dose, once the 42 days interval has elapsed since they both have the same vaccine viral vector and using adenovirus technology,” Galvez said in Filipino in a media interview during the ceremonial turnover of five modular hospital units at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on Wednesday.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, said the recommendation of the vaccine experts to mix two different jabs with the same vaccine technology platform is “safety-wise.”
Duque said the mix and match strategy is applicable in vaccines with the same viral vector technology such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen–which are all mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.
In the case of AstraZeneca and Sputnik V, Duque said both vaccines are using an adenovirus vaccine vector.
Galvez said the National Vaccination Operations Center headed by DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, with Duque’s approval, will make a memorandum advisory tackling the guidelines on vaccine mix and match strategy.
“ We already met Sputnik V’s manufacturer on how we will address the issue because they had a logistical problem with the production of Component 2,” he said partly in Filipino.
The Gamaleya Research Institute is also applying an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its single-dose Sputnik V light, he added.
The Philippines has so far received a total of 350,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine–both Component I and Component II.