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Thai Government Defends Mixing Vaccines Despite WHO Warning

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Thai Government Says 12 Post Vaccine Deaths Were Just Coincidental

The Thai government on Tuesday defended the mixing two different Covid-19 vaccines Sinovac and AstraZeneca to battle the latest surge in covid-19 infections, after the World Health Authorities top scientist warned it was a “dangerous trend” not backed by science or evidence.

A virologist and advisor to Thailand’s government on Tuesday endorsed a plan to mix doses of the coronavirus vaccines of AstraZeneca and Sinovac, amid some public unease about use of the largely untested strategy.

Thailand has been struggling to contain its latest outbreak fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant, with cases and deaths skyrocketing, causing massive strains on the healthcare system.

Authorities said they will mix a first dose of China’s  Sinovac jab with a second dose of AstraZeneca to try and achieve a “booster” effect in six weeks instead of 12.

Thailand’s chief virologist Yong Poovorawan said this would be possible by combining an inactivated virus vaccine Sinovac with a viral vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca.

“We can’t wait 12 weeks (for a booster effect) in this outbreak where the disease is spreading fast,” he said.

“But in the future, if there are better, improved vaccines… we will find a better way to manage the situation.”

A Dangerous Trend

His comments come a day after the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan called the strategy a “dangerous trend”.

“We are in a bit of a data-free, evidence-free zone as far as ‘mix-and-match'”, she said.

Thailand has reported more than 353,700 coronavirus cases and 2,847 deaths — the bulk of them detected since the latest wave kicked off in April from an upscale Bangkok nightlife district.

Healthcare workers were the first in line to receive Sinovac, but authorities said Sunday nearly 900 medical staff — most of them vaccinated with that shot — got Covid-19.

They will now also get an AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot, authorities said.

Some critics called mixing risky

“Thai people are not test subjects,” said Rewat Wisutwet, a doctor and lawmaker from the Seri Ruam Thai Party.

In Nonthaburi, a province bordering Bangkok, an offer on Facebook by health authorities for 20,000 people to receive the Sinovac-AstraZeneca mix drew close to 700 mostly critical comments.

“I am not a lab mouse,” said one post, while another said “This is like playing with peoples’ lives.”

Another wrote: “If the first dose is Sinovac, then please cancel it.”

Sinovac did not respond to a requests for comment on the Thai plan on Monday and AstraZeneca said vaccine policy was for each country to decide.

Thailand is suffering its worst coronavirus outbreak yet and authorities on Tuesday approved use of home rapid antigen self-test kits, as its capital’s healthcare and testing facilities come under strain.

Source: Reuters

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