Health Ministry guided by research on COVID-19 booster shots- Dr Anthony

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Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said several studies were used to guide the decision to begin the administration of booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines.

During Wednesday’s COVID-19 update, the health minister explained that one of the first studies done by Israel in July showed that the efficacy of the vaccine lowered to 41 per cent after six months. A more recent study on the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines published in November showed that the vaccines’ efficacy lowered to 44 per cent and 62.5 per cent respectively.

“In addition to that, a lot of the stringent regulatory authorities such as the FDA in the United States would have considered the matter. They have expert advisory panels that would review the data submitted to them and based on those reviews would have concluded that booster doses are necessary.”

He noted that several studies from countries around the world show that the vaccines’ immunity “waned” after the six-month period.

“From those studies, there seems to have been a waning of immunity and again, a recommendation from those studies is that you use the third dose. There are other studies in Europe pertaining to AstraZeneca that show that it wanes after six months and there have been studies done in Russia pertaining to Sputnik and studies in the Middle East pertaining to Sputnik. So, we have used all of these different studies to come up with the current formulation that we have in terms of giving booster doses,” Dr Anthony explained.

On Monday, the ministry commenced the administration of booster shots. Since the rollout of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines have been used. Persons above the age of 50, those with comorbidities and chronic illnesses, and frontline workers are eligible for booster shots.

For persons who took the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a booster shot of the Sinopharm vaccine is recommended, 52 days after the dose. Those who took the Sinopharm vaccine can take the same vaccine as their booster shot three to six months after the second jab. 

It is advised that persons who have been immunised using the AstraZeneca vaccine, can receive an MRNA vaccine which should be taken six months after the second dose. A shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can be used as a booster shot for the Sputnik V vaccine.

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