Foreign studies on mixing the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines have shown that the practice is effective, so that local studies might not be needed, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan yesterday said that the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation would donate 5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the government, following similar donations pledged by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co-affiliated Yonglin Foundation, which have signed contracts to purchase 5 million doses each from the German firm.
Responding to inquiries from the public on using vaccines from different brands for the first and second shot, CECC specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said there are reliable studies from abroad, and local studies might not be needed.
However, as there are fewer studies on mixing doses of the AstraZeneca and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, selected local hospitals are conducting mix-and-match trials, he said.
As to whether imported vaccines could be mixed with the Taiwan-made Medigen COVID-19 vaccine, which on Sunday received emergency use authorization, Chang said that trials might be needed.
The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices relies on empirical data from reliable sources based on studies conducted in Taiwan or abroad to assess the effectiveness and safety of using different vaccines for the first and second shot, he said.
The committee would on a case-by-case basis decide whether enough international data are available or whether domestic trials should be conducted, he said, declining speculation on which combination of vaccines might be approved.
Asked about a woman with systemic lupus erythematosus who said that her doctor recommended against using the AstraZeneca vaccine in her case, Chang said that the center’s guidelines do not include that recommendation.
However, her doctor might have better judgement of the patient’s condition, and the center would respect that, Chang said, adding that people should consult their doctor if they have questions on which vaccine is best for them.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the center’s spokesperson, said that the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rate on Tuesday climbed to 23.5 percent, with 24.16 doses per 100 people administered.
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