DOH, DOST to study use of coronavirus booster shots

DOH, DOST to study use of coronavirus booster shots

MANILA, Philippines — The health and science departments are planning to study the use of booster shots, which may offer enduring protection against the novel coronavirus and its variants.

In a briefing Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the officials of the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology as well as the vaccine expert panel have had “several meetings” to discuss the study.

“The proponent of this trial already presented to us their protocol,” Vergeire said.

Last month, the DOH said more evidence is needed to determine if a booster shot is necessary to protect people against COVID-19 following a statement of the head of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that people will “likely” need a third dose of his company’s jab within six to 12 months of vaccination.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the country was planning to procure booster shots from American pharmaceutical firm Moderna on top of the 20 million jabs purchased by the government and private sector.

Scientists currently do not know how long vaccines provide protection against the disease.

Mix-and-match of vaccine brands

Local experts are also looking at studying the possibility of pairing doses from two different COVID-19 jabs, Vergeire said.

Details of the trials, including the source of funding, are still being finalized.

So far, only four brands are being used in the government’s vaccination program: the vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Research Institute and Pfizer-BioNTech.

Since the Philippine launched its vaccination campaign on March 1, only 714,432 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Meanwhile, 2.24 million have received the first of two doses of the vaccine.

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