KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN: Vaccine committee hasn’t decided on mixing vaccines but will explore all suggestions

KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN: Vaccine committee hasn’t decided on mixing vaccines but will explore all suggestions

Fields says the committee will ultimately continue to follow the science

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee Co-Chair Ed Fields said yesterday that while it was not in his purview to decide whether the committee will mix-and-match COVID vaccines, the committee will explore the measure of mixing doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

When contacted for comment, Fields said the committee will explore all suggestions made to it and will ultimately follow the science, guided by international health agencies on best practices.

“We have not had to do that because we don’t have doses to mix,” he said.

National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee Co-Chair Ed Fields.

“So, that’s sort of a moot scenario.

“But I’ll have to take that to the committee — if we are going to be dealing with that once we get other vaccines.

“As you know, we’ve always been guided by the science, so I am sure wherever the science leads us, that’s the direction we will take. But I am not singularly qualified to make that statement off the cuff.”

Asked if the committee plans to explore it, Fields said: “Anything that is brought to our attention as it relates to the science, comes before the committee, so I am sure we will address it.”

In a separate interview last night, Minister of Health Reward Wells said while studies suggest mixing vaccines is the best way, The Bahamas will await the final position of the World Health Organization (WHO) and advice of the government’s health professionals.

“Germany has obviously gone and mixed Pfizer and AstraZeneca and said they believe it is the best way to actually administer the vaccine,” Wells said outside the Holy Trinity Activity Centre.

“WHO, I do believe, is putting out its view that countries perhaps should not do that, but when you look at the facts that Germany has already engaged in that and put out a very definitive study that says the efficacy of both vaccines in their view is better if you mix AstraZeneca and Pfizer…

Minister of Health Renward Wells.

“The Bahamas government is not in the business of doing that; we follow the WHO’s guidelines, and until WHO or our Ministry of Health professionals direct us in a particular direction, then we would go in that particular direction.”

Eyewitness News reported on Wednesday that The Bahamas could join other countries in mixing doses of the UK’s AstraZeneca and US’ Pfizer vaccines, which has been shown to provide an even greater immune response to the virus — a point raised by Wells earlier this week.

The WHO has said public health agencies, and not individuals, should make decisions on mixing and matching COVID vaccines, based on available data.

As of July 10, more than 97,992 vaccine doses had been administered in The Bahamas, with 60,303 people receiving a first dose of the vaccine and 37,689 fully vaccinated.

There have been concerns about the availability of vaccine supplies in recent weeks, with the number of administered doses exceeding The Bahamas’ supply of vaccine doses.

In a statement yesterday, the committee advised that only second doses of the vaccine will be administered until additional supplies have been received.