Mix-and-match booster shots can reduce hospitalisations, says MOH

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has given assurance to the public on the efficacy of a heterologous booster shot (mix-and-match approach).

It said scientific studies have shown that it can boost immunity levels and reduce hospitalisations.

The Health Ministry’s Institute of Clinical Research (ICR) director Dr Kalaiarasu Peariasamy said studies conducted on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine found that for all ages - except those between the ages of 12 and 15 - the efficacy rate dropped from 88% to 47% after five months of taking the second dose.

In the Real-World Evaluation of Covid-19 Vaccines under the Malaysia National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (RECoVaM) study that looked into the efficacy of the Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines, Dr Kalaiarasu said two months after receiving the second dose, the efficacy rates were at 88% and 75% respectively.

"But the efficacy rates after three to five months of the completion of the second dose of Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines reduced to 68% and 27% respectively," he said during a press conference on Friday (Nov 12).

He noted that studies done by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and ICR on frontline health workers also found that they experienced waning immunity levels after six months.

Dr Kalaiarasu pointed out that in studies from Thailand and Chile, immunity levels increased after being given a heterologous booster.

In the study from Thailand, he said when Sinovac recipients were given a heterologous booster, neutralising antibody levels increased.

“This is good as this means we can use heterologous booster shots for Sinovac recipients,” he said.

He also said even the US FDA and the United Kingdom have given approval to give booster shots to those above 60 years old, and those in the risk-high category.
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