By Theresa Goodwin
Residents now have the option to take two different vaccines as part of the two-stage vaccination process once they receive clearance from a trusted medical practitioner.
Head of the National Technical Working Group on Vaccinations Dr Lester Simon made the disclosure Sunday night, indicating that the group has given approval for the mixing of one dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca shot followed by a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech jab.
Dr Simon said the decision followed in-depth research conducted by the team. He also noted this has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“What WHO is saying, for us to give approval for a mix, they have to do an efficacy trial.
“There is another set of work that had come about which is to study the antibody levels in people who have had the mix compared to those who did not mix vaccines, and looking at the level of the antibodies.
“Based on the comparison, the information is out there about which particular mix is good. We are using that sort of study in lieu of the proper efficacy trial and having used that we gave consent for a mix between AstraZeneca and Pfizer or AstraZeneca and Moderna,” Simon explained.
The Moderna vaccine is not currently available in Antigua and Barbuda.
Simon said residents who wish to mix the AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots must first consult with their physician, and will be required to send a letter to the health team administering the jab, stating the reason for requesting the two different shots.
Meanwhile, the lead health official also explained that the Deltavariant, which is thought to be the most dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2, is fuelling the surge in Covid-19 cases in Antigua and Barbuda.
According to Dr Simon, data from recent samples showed that dozens of that type of variant, including its sub lineages, ‘Delta Plus’, have been identified in Covid patients locally.
He told state media Monday night that “Delta has taken over Antigua and Barbuda”, and provided graphs to cement his point.
According to Dr Simon, many different variations of the Delta variant were detected in Antigua roughly around the same time.
The Delta variant, according to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), is highly contagious, more than twice that of previous genetic variants of Covid-19.