Health Ministry evaluating second booster shot after study finds Sinovac with Pfizer booster still less effective against Omicron

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People receive their Covid-19 booster jabs at the UEM Learning Centre in Petaling Jaya November 24, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People receive their Covid-19 booster jabs at the UEM Learning Centre in Petaling Jaya November 24, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 — The Health Ministry was studying the need for a second booster dose following the increased prevalence of the highly infectious Covid-19 Omicron variant globally, said Khairy Jamaluddin.

The health minister said so when asked whether his ministry was aware of a foreign study that found two doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine followed by a booster Pfizer-BioNTech shot still produced a lower immune response against the Omicron variant compared with other variants.

He was also asked if recipients of the Sinovac vaccine who received the Pfizer booster in Malaysia may require a fourth dose in the future.

“We have received the news (on the study). The technical team is studying the research and will make its recommendations to CITF as usual on whether those who received Sinovac (doses) and a Pfizer (booster) should be given another dose,” he said at a press conference earlier today.

Khairy said his ministry’s technical team will be proposing recommendations to the Covid-19 Immunization Task Force (CITF) after completing a few studies of its own, adding that it was still too early to draw any definite conclusions from the study.

Accordingly, a report cited by Reuters yesterday said the Sinovac two-dose regimen along with the Pfizer shot produced an antibody response similar to a two-dose mRNA vaccine.

The study, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, was conducted by researchers from Yale University, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health and other institutions.

“The two-dose Sinovac vaccine alone did not show any detectable neutralisation against Omicron, according to the study that analysed plasma samples from 101 participants in the Dominican Republic,” the study said.

One of the authors of the study, Akiko Iwasaki, said on Twitter that CoronaVac (Sinovac) recipients may need two additional booster doses to achieve protective levels needed against Omicron.

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