COVID-19 vaccines

DOH, DOST to study use of COVID-19 vaccine booster

Sofia Tomacruz
DOH, DOST to study use of COVID-19 vaccine booster

PROTECTION. A senior citizen receives his first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Pasay Giga Vaccination Center on May 14, 2021.

Rappler

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says the government is looking for funds for a trial that will study the use of COVID-19 booster shots

Scientists and medical experts in the Philippines are planning to study the use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters, which could strengthen an individual’s immune response to the virus.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday, May 17, that a study on the potential use of booster shots will be done alongside a study that will look into the possibility of “mixing” different COVID-19 vaccine brands to see whether an immune response would still be produced.

“We had several meetings with the vaccine expert panel of the DOST (Department of Science and Technology), DOST officials, and DOH (Department of Health) and this was discussed. The proponent of these trials already presented to us their protocol,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino during a forum on Monday.

Vergeire said the agencies are looking for funds to carry out the trials and more details will be given once the trials are scheduled to begin.

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Why this matters

Booster shots may provide protection against new variants of COVID-19 and longer immunity.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the Philippines is eyeing to buy COVID-19 vaccine booster shots from American pharmaceutical company Moderna, in addition to the 20 million doses purchased by the government and private sector.

As several COVID-19 vaccines have become available worldwide, scientists across the globe are also looking into whether different shots can be used with one another and still remain effective against the coronavirus.

Majority of vaccines available require two doses to be administered to patients, with current evidence and protocols in countries recommending the use of two shots from the same brand. 

This is the case in the Philippines, where Vergeire said the current vaccination protocol is to use two shots of a single COVID-19 vaccine brand. 

Mixing COVID-19 vaccines is eyed to address several issues with vaccination rollouts, such as limited and erratic supply, as well as performance of some shots. If proven to be effective, mixing shots could provide flexibility in global vaccination efforts. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.