Philippines eyes trial of 'mixing' COVID-19 vaccine brands by June

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said on Monday, May 24, the Philippines would start its study on "mixing" COVID-19 brands by June.

In an interview with DZMM's TeleRadyo, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the study is now awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Research Ethics Board.

The 18-month study will involve 1,200 participants and will be lead by the Philippine Society for Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Dela Peña explained that the participants in the trial would receive two different brands of vaccines. He added that the study will focus on mixing Sinovac with other brands as the country has a steady supply of this vaccine.

"We have 7 vaccines with an EUA (emergency use authorization) but we can't be sure if the second dose will arrive on the date it would be needed so we need to have a combination of vaccines," he said.

The Philippines earlier cleared the vaccines of Pfizer and BioNTechAstraZenecaSinovacGamaleya Research InstituteJ&J, and Bharat Biotech, and Moderna for emergency use in the country. 

The BBC reported that a major trial in the United Kingdom was being expanded to see the effect on better immune response against the deadly virus.

The initial results of the trial are expected to be out by June or July, although the study will run for a year.

"Combining vaccines might give broader, longer-lasting immunity against the virus and new variants of it, and offer more flexibility to vaccine rollout," the BBC report said.

If proven effective, the mixing of vaccine brands would benefit the Philippines whose vaccine supplies are currently not equal among brands.

The Philippines, which is suffering one of the worst outbreaks in Southeast Asia, has 8,279,050 doses of vaccines so far – 5.5 million Sinovac vaccines, 2,556,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, and 30,000 Sputnik vaccines.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said that while the country is studying the mixing of COVID-19 brands, vaccination protocol in the country for now is single brand, which means an individual has to complete two doses of the same brand. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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