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Delaying second COVID-19 vaccine doses can help reduce deaths - study

Wed, 12th May 2021 23:30

LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) - Giving a first dose of COVID-19
vaccine but delaying a second dose among people younger than 65
could lead to fewer people dying of the disease, but only if
certain conditions are met, a predictive modelling study showed.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, there is debate over
whether to extend the gap between doses to give as many people
as possible some protection, or stick to the intervals
designated in clinical trials.

For example, Pfizer has said there is no clinical
evidence to support Britain's decision to extend the gap between
doses of its vaccine to 12 weeks, but data from the rollout in
England shows protection against death of around 80% from one
dose, with a 70% decline in infections.

The U.S. study, published in the BMJ British medical
journal, used a simulation model based on a "real-world" sample
of 100,000 U.S. adults and ran a series of scenarios to forecast
potentially infectious interactions under different conditions.

These included varying levels of vaccine efficacy and
immunisation rates, and varying assumptions as to whether the
vaccine prevents transmission and serious symptoms or only
prevents serious symptoms, including death.

"The results suggest that under specific conditions a
decrease in cumulative mortality, infections, and hospital
admissions can be achieved when the second vaccine dose is
delayed," wrote the researchers, led by the Thomas C Kingsley of
the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

The specific conditions include having a vaccine with a one
dose efficacy of at least 80% and having daily immunisation
rates of between 0.1% and 0.3% of a population - but if they are
met, a delayed second-dose strategy could prevent between 26 and
47 deaths per 100,000 people compared to the usual schedule.

The study did not recommend an optimum schedule.

"Decision makers will need to consider their local
vaccination rates and weigh the benefits of increasing these
rates by delaying a second dose versus the risks associated with
the remaining uncertainty in this strategy," the team said.

Separately, an Oxford University-led study on giving shots
from different manufacturers for the two doses reported its
first findings - on the frequency of common post-vaccination
symptoms such as sore arm, chills or fatigue.

It found that people vaccinated with a shot of Pfizer's
vaccine followed by a dose of AstraZeneca's, or vice versa, were
more likely to report mild or moderate symptoms such as
headaches or chills than if they received two of the same type.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca were the first vaccines available in
Britain to be trialled in the "mix-and-match" study. Shots by
Novavax and Moderna have since been added to the research.

Key data on immune responses generated by the different
combinations of mixed or regular dose schedules is expected to
be reported in the coming months, according to Matthew Snape,
the Oxford University professor leading the trial.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Kate Kelland;
Editing by Alison Williams)

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