German health authority recommends switching from AstraZeneca vaccine to Pfizer vaccine for second dose
The German Vaccine Committee has recommended anyone who received a first dose of AstraZeneca to receive Pfizer or Moderna injections as a second for better protection against the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.
- Researchers say AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer is almost as potent as two Pfizer vaccines
- The commission recommended the mixture “regardless of age”
- Several countries, including Canada, Spain and South Korea, have already approved the vaccine dose mix
Australian health officials have insisted we avoid mixing COVID-19 vaccines, with Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly last week urging people not to cancel their second AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, studies show that the immune response is “clearly superior” when one injection of AstraZeneca is combined with a second mRNA vaccine, compared to double injections of AstraZeneca, the German Standing Committee on Immunization (STIKO ).
Researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK said this week they found that a combination of AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer was found to be almost as potent as two Pfizer vaccines.
The commission recommended the mix “whatever the age” and with a minimum gap of four weeks between the two shots.
Several countries, including Canada, Spain and South Korea, have already approved the vaccine dose mix.
The vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are based on the same new messenger RNA technology, which trains the body to reproduce advanced proteins, similar to those found on the coronavirus.
When exposed to the real virus later, the body recognizes the spike proteins and is able to fight them off.
Viral vector vaccines like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson use a genetically engineered version of a cold-causing adenovirus as a “vector” to transfer genetic instructions into human cells.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had received a second blow from Moderna after receiving an AstraZeneca injection for her first.
Referring to studies in Britain, STIKO said protection against the Delta variant was “significantly reduced” after a single shot.
“In this context, STIKO stresses the importance of getting the second dose of vaccine,” he said.
Delta variant to be supported
Germany expects the Delta variant to become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the country in the coming days.
“I think during the month of July we will see Delta account for over 70-80% of infections in our country,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) health agency reported on Wednesday that the Delta variant, first identified in India, already accounted for 37% of infections in Germany as of the week of June 20.
The variant is expected to account for at least half of all new infections by this week, experts said.
Despite the growing share of the Delta variant, the overall incidence in Germany has steadily declined in recent weeks.
The RKI on Thursday reported 892 new cases in the past 24 hours and an incidence rate of 5.1 new infections per 100,000 people in the past seven days.
But across Europe, the number of new cases rose again last week after 10 weeks of decline, according to the World Health Organization.
Speaking at the European Parliament, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde also warned of the threat that variants of the virus pose to the economy.
“The nascent recovery still faces uncertainties, also due to the spread of viral mutations,” she said.
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