The Department of Health said the protocol of using a single brand of COVID-19 vaccine for the first and second doses remains as experts study the possibility of pairing doses from two different jabs.
In a briefing Friday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department cannot recommend mixing vaccine brands due to lack of sufficient evidence to support it.
“Our protocol is we use single brand for now. If you receive Sinovac on your first dose, your second dose will also be Sinovac because we don’t have sufficient scientific evidence to state that we can already mix brands,” she said.
A member of the government’s vaccine expert panel suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte could get the vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech for his second dose after he asked China to take back the Sinopharm doses it had donated to the country.
Last Monday, the chief executive got a Sinoparm shot, which is not yet approved for emergency use in the Philippines. A vial has been set aside for his second Sinopharm dose.
Local experts are studying the mix-and-match approach, Vergeire said.
“They’re saying there is theoretical basis but that is still theoretical that’s why we need to study further to know if this really is going to be acceptable and it’s going to be safe, efficacious for our citizens,” she said.
A major trial in the United Kingdom is examining whether different COVID-19 vaccines can safely used for two-dose regimens.
“So we’re looking at the experience of other countries about this,” the health official said.
So far, only three brands are being used in the government’s vaccination programme: the vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech, AstraZeneca, and Gamaleya Research Institute.
Since the start of the inoculation drive in March, only 320,586 people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while over 1.7 million have received their first dose.