China CDC Backs Mix-And-Match Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters

Prof George Fu Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says the effectiveness of heterologous Covid-19 vaccination is supported in immunology.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) supports heterologous Covid-19 vaccination with a booster vaccine different from shots used for primary inoculation.

China CDC director-general Prof George Fu Gao said additional shots are necessary to curb the decline of protective antibodies over time after vaccination with the first two doses. 

“Scientifically, we have so many trials already. We’re thinking about heterologous, sequential vaccination — using one vaccine to prime and then a second other heterologous vaccine to do the booster jab.

“It’s still science. We still need to collect more data to see whether or not it would work, but by immunology and the science, it would work. This is something we should think about,” Gao told the virtual Global Town Hall 2021 organised by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia last Saturday.

Gao, whose research interests include virology and immunology and the study of inter-species pathogen transmission, said China started its Covid-19 booster vaccination programme last month for high-risk groups.

“By November 18, approximately about 80 per cent of high-risk people have already been booster vaccinated.”

South China Morning Post reported last November 17 a National Health Commission official as saying that China will soon permit a mix-and-match approach for Covid-19 booster vaccination.

“We believe that we will achieve better results in the prevention of severe illness and death by boosting immunisation with the same or different technological platforms, regardless of [coronavirus] variants. So we will introduce an optimal combination of booster vaccines … and I think we should see the results soon,” Zheng Zhongwei was quoted as saying.

Malaysian regulators permit heterologous coronavirus vaccination in the use of Pfizer-BioNTech, an mRNA vaccine, as a booster for those initially vaccinated with Sinovac, an inactivated vaccine.

Individuals fully vaccinated with two Sinovac doses can also opt to get a third shot of the same vaccine from the private market in Malaysia, as PPVs currently only offer Pfizer boosters for free under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK). 

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