National Post (Latest Edition)

Spain to trial mixing vaccines

- Nathan allen inti landauro and

• Spain will study the effects of mixing different coronaviru­s vaccines, government researcher­s said on Monday, responding to shifting guidelines on the safety of the Astrazenec­a’s shot.

Along with several other European countries, Spain has restricted vaccines produced by the Anglo-swedish drug maker to people over 60 after regulators linked it to a rare form of brain blood clots, mostly in younger women.

“After decisions by various European public health authoritie­s to suspend use of the Astrazenec­a vaccine in under 60-year-olds, we are setting out to urgently find scientific evidence to support decision-making around possible alternativ­es,” Raquel Yotti, director of the Carlos III Health Institute, told a news conference.

The trial will draw on a sample of 600 people of all ages from across Spain, said Jesus Frias Iniesta, clinical research co-ordinator at Carlos III.

“The study’s objective is ... to determine within 28 days whether a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine can be given to patients who have received the Astrazenec­a vaccine,” he said.

A United Kingdom study on mixing vaccines was expanded last week to include shots made by Moderna and Novavax, while France and Germany are considerin­g giving an alternativ­e to under-60s who have received a first dose of the Astrazenec­a vaccine.

Separately, Spain’s El Mundo newspaper reported the health ministry was considerin­g delaying second doses for under 80-year-olds to maximize the number of people who have received at least one injection.

Patients would receive a second shot of vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna eight weeks after the first, El Mundo said.

The European Medicines Agency recommends a 28day gap between Moderna shots and 21 days between Pfizer.

The proposal would signal a sharp departure from Spain’s current strategy, which favours giving vulnerable age groups a full course of two shots as quickly as possible.

The health ministry said it was studying various proposals without giving any details.

Asked about the report at a news conference, health official Fernando Simon said it was best not to start a media debate based on a draft proposal.

Several real-world studies have shown a first dose of the Pfizer-biontech vaccine provides a high level of protection.

Despite delays to the deployment of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and supply disruption­s hampering the Astrazenec­a vaccine, the Spanish government still expects to have half its population of 47 million people fully inoculated by late July.

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