Japan could mix AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 shots with those developed by other companies in order to speed up its vaccination effort, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.
The mixing would be a result of combining the dose with one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE or Moderna Inc., Taro Kono said on a Fuji TV news program.
Kono noted that since AstraZeneca recommends eight weeks between its two shots, it’s likely that time could be shortened if combined.
So far, studies on mixing Covid vaccines show that it could result in an equal if not stronger immune response. However, it’s not clear which combination could give the best protection that will last the longest, and there’s some evidence that mixing could cause worse side effects.
Meantime, countries like Canada, Germany and France allow mix-and-match vaccines, but the U.S. has warned against doing so.
“I’m asking the health ministry to issue its point of view on whether it’s OK to mix the vaccines,” Kono said. If mixing is allowed, he said it would also increase the options for a potential third shot that Japan is considering.
Vaccinations in Japan has progressed quickly since early summer. About 44% of the population is fully vaccinated, including nearly 90% of those over the age of 65. Still, a majority of younger people haven’t been inoculated and they have been the worst affected during its current surge of infections.