Even as Bhutan is receiving a mix of vaccines from the COVAX Facility and from development partners, the warning that mix and match vaccines are not safe has caused some serious concerns.
However, the World Health Organisation has not, as of yesterday – day after an international news agency reported the “warning” – has not made an official statement.
The concern of the WHO scientist was made at an online briefing, which as of yesterday was not made into a WHO official statement.
The government, led by both the prime minister and the health minister, is assured that getting a different vaccine for the second shot is safer, if not more effective. Their assurance is backed by members of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG). The group, which is also aware of the WHO “warning”, is convinced that mixing vaccines is the best way to save people from the more infectious Delta variant of the Coronavirus.
What is reassuring is that the decisions are based on scientific studies and made by decision-makers who have the background and experience to take the risk of what they decide. The concern up till yesterday, among Bhutanese aware of the developments, was if we would get a different vaccine for the second dose. We welcomed the 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccines. We also received and 5,850 doses of Pfizer vaccine in May. We were assured of the second dose or the immunity booster jab.
We have a few days before we begin the second round of vaccination. There could be developments and we can expect the WHO to issue orders or warnings to stop mixing and matching for the second dose if proven not safe.
The government is not deciding on the mix and match vaccine because of shortage of vaccines.
There are enough vaccines and more are on the way. Scientifically, it is also proven that a mix of vaccines have more impact, especially against the Delta variant. Mixing vaccines is not new.
Developed countries have gone ahead with it and some of the prominent global leaders have received mixed vaccines.
In the meantime, what we should be concerned about is achieving herd immunity. The health minister, aware of all the developments surrounding vaccines, is urging people to register and get vaccinated.
We have come a long way in securing enough vaccines to inoculate all the eligible population. We should go ahead and get ourselves protected.
The call in this pandemic times is that nobody is safe until everybody is safe. If vaccination is the only solution for Covid-19, we should get vaccinated. We have enough vaccines to achieve herd immunity and we should achieve it, not to be the first country to do so, but to save ourselves.