Thailand said Monday that healthcare workers who received the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s Sinovac will be inoculated with Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech shots to give them greater protection as concerns grow for more variants. transmissible faded immunity provided by Sinovac.
Anutin Charnvirakul, Minister of Health of Thailand, said people vaccinated with one dose of Sinovac should be given AstraZeneca as a second dose three to four weeks later. Those who have already received both shots of the Sinovac vaccine, he said, should receive a boost immediately.
This will build immunity to the virus to a high level faster, Mr Anutin told a news conference.
Thailand is the latest foreign government to show doubts about the immunity provided by the Sinovac vaccine. On Friday, Indonesia said it would offer the Moderna vaccine as a booster for healthcare workers who had taken two doses of Sinovac target.
Both countries are facing their most serious outbreaks of the pandemic coronavirus, triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant that was first discovered in India. On Sunday, Thailand reported a record of 9,418 new coronavirus infections, a day after reporting a record 91 coronavirus-related deaths. For at least two weeks starting Monday, the capital, Bangkok and surrounding provinces will be under tight restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, including a curfew and a five-person limit at meetings.
Most medical workers in Thailand were inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine after it was approved in February, with the AstraZeneca vaccine becoming available only recently. Evidence results have shown that stroke in Sinovac is at least 51 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease, above the threshold set by the World Health Organization, and even more effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
But some countries that were among the earliest recipients of the Sinovac vaccine have reported that their healthcare workers have contracted Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated. On Sunday, the Thai Ministry of Health said that out of 677,348 medical personnel who had received two doses of Sinovac, 618 were infected, citing data from April to July. One nurse has died and another medical worker is in critical condition.
Progressive infections that occur even in individuals who are fully vaccinated can occur with any vaccine. But governments are particularly concerned when it happens to health care workers, especially at a time when their hospitals are already busy.
On Sunday, Prof. Thiravat Hemachudha, a specialist in clinical, virological and immunological studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said a study of people who had received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine showed that their antibody level, at 70 percent, was barely effective against the Alpha variant. first discovered in Britain or against the Delta variant.
Professor Thiravat said it was imperative that the Thai government give first-line medical workers shots because they faced higher risks of infection. Thailand is producing AstraZeneca shots in the country, the only country in Southeast Asia to do so. There is no Pfizer vaccine on hand, but it expects to receive a 1.5 million dose donation from the United States this month.
While studies suggest that most Covid-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, which the WHO says is is likely to become the predominant form of the virus worldwide in the coming months, less is known about the Sinovac vaccine. One of China’s leading epidemiologists, Zhong Nanshan, said a study of 160 people infected with the Delta variant in the southern city of Guangzhou showed that the Chinas vaccine, developed by Sinovac and another company called Sinopharm, was 69 percent effective in preventing infection between close contacts, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. Sinovac did not provide any data.
Elsie Chen contributed to research.
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