Thursday, October 21, 2021

Vaccines: Mix and Match

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

In a recent post on STAT (Branswell, October 12 2021), University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm commenting on booster vaccination as well as whether they should be mixed and matched "said we need to realize that many questions remain to be answered about use of these vaccines. We don't know the optimal dose. We don't know the most effective interval between doses. We don't know how many does were going to need and we con't know whether we would get more durable protection if we mix up the vaccines each person receives." Osterholm, as reported in the article reminded us that "we're in the very early days" and "now that we have effective vaccines, we need to start figuring out how best to use them."  In a direct quote Osterholm noted that "'We have to start adopting a public health mindset for decision making."

It is going to take time to answer these questions which is often the reason why proposed policies get ahead of what is known and what isn't about the vaccines.

In the reporting, Branswell discusses terminology, the use by some countries of mixed vaccine jabs due to inadequate supply, whether all combos are created equal, and the challenges that lie ahead." She also discusses countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany that used mixed vaccine approaches and how this creates border barriers. Some countries, "the United States is among them, do not consider people who received two different brands of vaccines fully vaccinated, even if the person's home country does. This may be one of those unanticipated consequences but as she notes "necessity is the mother of invention," in other words countries had no choice.

And consider the growing possibility of a 5th wave of COVID. The virus has plenty with which to work or as scientists put it "evolutionary space" and plenty of "test tubes," i.e., way too many who remain unvaccinated in the U.S. and worldwide. The virus has been one of surprises and more are likely to come. 

Get jabbed if you aren't, mask up, social distance, jabbed or not. And with respect to so-called "natural immunity" following infection, infection will wane although no one knows how quickly.

October 20, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided it is acceptable for people to get boosted with a different brand of vaccine than their initial shots, i.e., you can mix and match. Please look at their new guidelines and recommendations. To put it in evolutionary terms SARS-CoV-2 is "a virus that is specifically evolving to escape immunity." 

See this short report from the Journal Nature on COVID reinfections which includes a comment on research published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August. The study looked at people who got COVID-19 in 2020, some of whom became reinfected in May or June 2021. It found that those who had not had a vaccine were more then twice as likely to get reinfected in that period as those who had both the virus and vaccine." (my emphasis)

Worth a look.

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