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Government shifts stance on Sinovac

THAILAND: The Public Health Ministry has decided to start administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as a second dose to those who had received a Sinovac jab for their first shot, in what is seen as a major shift in the government’s vaccination policy.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 13 July 2021, 08:59AM

The road outside the Grand Palace is almost empty of traffic in the late evening, hours before the launch of the 9pm-4am curfew last night (July 12) as part of wider measures to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the 10 hardest-hit provinces, including Bangkok. Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya.

The road outside the Grand Palace is almost empty of traffic in the late evening, hours before the launch of the 9pm-4am curfew last night (July 12) as part of wider measures to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the 10 hardest-hit provinces, including Bangkok. Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya.

The announcement came as it was confirmed that antibody levels in people fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine decline by half every 40 days, according to findings from a joint study between Thammasat University’s faculty of medicine and the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec).

The AstraZeneca jab will be administered three to four weeks after the first Sinovac injection, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday (July 12), adding a combination of the jabs will confer greater immunity against the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

That said, Mr Anutin stopped short of explaining what those who have had two shots of the Sinovac vaccine should do once the change in policy comes into force, or how it would affect people who are waiting for their first or second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The change was announced after the National Communicable Diseases Committee convened a meeting to discuss measures to deal with the rapid spread of the Delta strain, which was first detected in India and is rapidly becoming the dominant strain in Thailand.

The move also came amid growing questions about the efficacy of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs against the Delta strain.

A source at the Public Health Ministry said from now on, a combination of the vaccines will be administered in the national inoculation campaign.

“We won’t administer Sinovac jabs as the first, second or booster shot anymore. According to research, a shot of Sinovac, followed up by an AstraZeneca shot, can trigger an immune response that is almost equal to two shots of AstraZeneca’s,” the source said.

The minister also announced the start of a booster shot drive, which would launch before the end of the month, for frontline medical workers who had received two shots of COVID-19 vaccine.

The third shot, he said, would be administered three to four weeks after the second shot.

“The booster shot will be mainly the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Mr Anutin said. “Daily fatalities could exceed 100 and new cases above 10,000 a day if no adjustments were made to the current programme.”

The committee also approved the use of rapid antigen test kits in hospitals to reduce queues for RT-PCR tests.

The rapid antigen test kits must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), he said, adding that the test kits will be used at more than 300 hospitals nationwide.

Mr Anutin said that the committee is expected to allow at-home COVID-19 testing soon, adding the Department of Disease Control will order provincial communicable diseases committees and Bangkok’s communicable diseases committee to ensure at-home tests are carried out correctly.

Speculation about the government moving to allow at-home testing has grown since testing centres and units were unable to cope with the increasing demand for COVID-19 tests after infections soared across Bangkok and its neighbouring provinces.

The committee also approved home isolation and community isolation for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients and those with mild symptoms, with the National Health Security Office (NHSO) working with hospitals to handle the matter, Mr Anutin said.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said 188 Comprehensive COVID-19 Response Teams (CCRT) will be deployed to conduct proactive testing in communities in Bangkok, using antigen test kits (ATKs).

The move is a collaboration between the Public Health Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Dr Kiattiphum said that the FDA is expected to propose to allow ATKs, which are currently allowed for use by health professionals only, to be sold at pharmacies to facilitate at-home testing.

NHSO secretary-general Jadej Thammathat-aree said that NHSO will work with the Institute for Urban Disease Control and Mahidol University’s faculty of medical technology to conduct proactive case finding in Bangkok for about two weeks.

The aim is to test about 10,000-12,000 people a day. Rapid antigen test kits will be used, with results to be known in 30 minutes, Dr Jadej said.

During a TV show interview, Boon Vanasin, chairman of the Thonburi Healthcare Group, said that private hospitals are collaborating with state agencies to import mRNA vaccines from BioNTech in Germany as well as Novavax in the United States.

About 20 million doses of the vaccines will be bought, he said.

“Prices, including storage and transport costs, are estimated to be around B900 per dose, excluding taxes,” Dr Boon said. “If the deal is a success, the vaccines will arrive this month because we have been in contact since October last year.”

Sinovac-produced antibodies ‘halve every 40 days’

Meanwhile the announcement that antibodies in people fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine decline by half every 40 days was made yesterday by Anan Jongkaewwattana, director of Veterinary Health Innovation and Management Research Group of Biotec.

Mr Anan wrote on Facebook that their study of 500 people, who received two doses of Sinovac, indicated that the level of antibodies drops by 50% every 40 days. The level of antibodies in people who received a second jab more than 60 days after the first was on average lower than that of those who got the second dose in less than 60 days, he said.

Mr Anan said the vaccine potency within 60 days of the second shot is between 60%-70% against the original strain. The potency against the original strain declines to about 50% in those receiving the second shot for over 60 days.

However, no data is available about the potency of two doses of Sinovac against variants, especially the highly contagious Alpha and Delta strains.

The overall level of immunisation is likely to drop in older people, he said, adding those aged over 40 showed lower antibody levels than those younger.

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Kurt | 14 July 2021 - 09:06:36

@Maverick, yesterday you were referring to flight activity, not to DOMESTIC flight activity. Poison is in the tale, the CCP always has her own agenda. It rules with iron fist, and is master in keeping things secret. How long it took before we learned about the concentration camps in which they hold 1.5 million people? How long they hided the Covid-19 outbreak?

maverick | 14 July 2021 - 07:08:13

DaveC@ I am neither anti -Vax or anti -Chinese I keep an open mind and rely on more than this forum to keep me informed about what is going on during these difficult times - that said there is so much we do not know so try to deal only in facts. All will be revealed in years to come when we emerge from this terrible crisis.

maverick | 14 July 2021 - 07:01:00

Kurt I was referring to domestic flight activity which along with manufacturing activity is an indication of an economy functioning normally without continual outbreaks of Covid perhaps keeping their borders closed has kept the variants out - either way something is working and why would we assume it’s NOT the vaccines unless there is another agenda here.

Paddy | 13 July 2021 - 14:47:30

Reuters Videos
WHO warns against mixing and matching COVID vaccines
Tue, July 13, 2021, 5:07 AM
The World Health Organization's chief scientist on Monday advised against people mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers, calling it a "dangerous trend" since there is very little information on doing so.

"So it's a little bit of a dangerous trend ...

Christy Sweet | 13 July 2021 - 14:32:33

 Now an offense to share info about that may cause "worry" under penalty of two years jail and/or 40,000 baht - reports Prachatai July 13. Hello The Hague, I'd like to report a government . 

Dave_C | 13 July 2021 - 12:44:08

@maverick - your last 2 words.
Does that describe you also?

Christy Sweet | 13 July 2021 - 12:20:45

China locks down whole cities upon first whiff of new infections is how they have gotten away with using CrapOvac. Thailand does not.

Kurt | 13 July 2021 - 11:45:58

@Maverick,  Chinese travel activity back to normal? Does that mean the Chinese people are allowed now to travel to Thailand and all over the world 'normal'as before outbreak Pandemic?

Kurt | 13 July 2021 - 11:41:01

@Maverick, as you wrote, yes, perhaps China sent Thailand a different brand. Who knows ( now)? What you describe as 'perfectly normal' is actually a disaster for Thailand. Don't forget new infections are 'Delta'!

maverick | 13 July 2021 - 11:30:41

Kurt have you wondered what vaccines they are using in China ? Their economy is back to normal as indicated by travel activity - maybe they send a different brand to Thailand - it’s now known that Sinovac is less effective against latest mutation, perfectly normal.

Kurt | 13 July 2021 - 11:09:04

Bit by bit admit Thai Government they bought/buy a cat in the bag with these Chinese sugar water vaccines. Now they even start people 1st time vaccinated with Chinese vaccine. to give as 2nd dose a AZ vaccination. So, with fully sugar water vaccinated people they can start vaccinating all over again after 80 days.  Great! Back to square one.

Xi_Virus | 13 July 2021 - 09:36:33

Not surprised as anything made in Xhina is a total GARBAGE. Xinovac = Another Xhinese GARBAGE. 


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