Authorities will study the possibility of mixing and matching different COVID-19 vaccines for the first and second doses to ensure the continuity of the immunization program despite tight supply, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said on Monday.
The P133-million study, estimated to last 18 months, will involve 1,200 participants in Manila, Pasig, Makati, Pasay, Muntinlupa, Quezon City, Rizal, Cebu, and Davao, Dela Peña told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
“Ito po ay magkaibang bakuna sa two doses kasi meron po tayong pitong bakuna ngayon na approved with an EUA pero hindi po natin masiguro kung dadating sa tamang petsa ‘yung mga kailangan sa pang-second dose kaya baka kailangan tayo magkaroon tayo ng kombinasyon ng mga bakuna,” he said.
The Philippines has a vaccine inventory of 8.26 million doses so far, most of which are China-made Sinovac jabs.
Under the DOST study, participants will be given two different brand of vaccines for their first and second dose, most likely Sinovac in combination with other brands with emergency use permit and supply in the Philippines like AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, or Pfizer.
“Gagamitin po ‘yan para magkaroon tayo ng basis kung ano ang magandang ipag-mix kasi puwede naman lahat ‘yan pero titingnan kung ano ang mas magandang kombinasyon at ayan ay puwedeng i-apply ng DOH kung kailangan man ng EUA para sa kombinasyon.”
Nearly one million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while more than three million have been given their first dose, according to data from the National Vaccination Operations Center.
The Philippines aims to immunize at least 50 million to achieve herd immunity in Metro Manila and other areas before Christmas this year. To avoid brand preference, the DILG instructed local government units to stop announcing the vaccine brands prior to inoculation.