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Mixing coronavirus vaccines without necessary data ‘a huge gamble,’ experts say – Global News



Different vaccines to protect against the novel coronavirus shouldn’t be mixed-and-matched, despite Britain’s recent decision to allow the practice to be used in rare occasions, health experts say.

Mixing different coronavirus vaccines without any data to suggest the safety and efficacy of the practice is “a huge gamble,” Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto said.

“I think it’s irresponsible … it’s unethical because we don’t know what that does,” he said. “We don’t know what the effectiveness is, we don’t know what the side effects are.”

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Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases faculty member at the University of Toronto said while there may be “some theoretical reasons” as to why vaccine mixing “may provide decent protection to COVID-19 infections,” the data is not yet conclusive.

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“Until we see better data to support that, I don’t think we’re going to see any such activity in Canada,” he said.

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The comments come after Britain released new guidelines on New Year’s Eve which will allow people seeking their second dose to be given shots of different COVID-19 vaccines on rare occasions.

“(If) the same vaccine is not available, or if the first product received is unknown, it is reasonable to offer one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule,” according to the guidelines.

Mary Ramsay, head of immunizations at Public Health England, said this would only happen on extremely rare occasions, and that the government was not recommending the mixing of vaccines, which require at least two doses given several weeks apart.

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She said “every effort should be made to give them the same vaccine.

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“But where this is not possible it is better to give a second dose of another vaccine than not at all,” she said.

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What has Health Canada said?

Health Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) currently recommends that the vaccine series “be completed with the same COVID-19 vaccine product.”

“Currently, no data exists on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines,” the agency’s website read.

However, according to NACI, if the vaccine used for a previous dose is “not known, or not available, attempts should be made to complete the vaccine in series with a similar type of COVID-19 vaccine (e.g. mRNA vaccine).”

“In the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply and the absence of evidence on interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines, the previous dose may be counted, and the series need not be restarted,” the website read.

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The agency said “active surveillance of effectiveness and safety of this mixed schedule will be important in these individuals,” adding that “accurate recording of vaccines received will be critical.”

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According to the NACI, the agency will “continue to monitor the evidence” and will update its recommendations as needed.

To date, Health Canada has approved two coronavirus vaccines for use across the country. Both are mRNA vaccines, and require two doses to provide around 95 per cent protection from COVID-19.

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The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two shots to be administered 21 days apart, while doses of the Moderna vaccine are to be administered 28 days apart.

Bogoch said we have “good data” on these vaccines, and how they are to be administered.

Asked if there are any circumstances in which Canada should allow different vaccines to be mixed-and-matched before data is available, Bogoch said: “no.”

“I’m not entirely sure outside of a clinical trial what the role would be for conducting this type of activity,” he said.

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Furness also said vaccines should not be mixed unless in a lab setting, where participants have given their informed consent.

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“If you want to do a trial to try them out, sure,” he said. “But that’s going to take many months.”

Anything else, Furness said, would be “experimental.”

“The human history is really littered with experimenting on people without the understanding that they’re being experimented on,” he said. “And that’s really not OK.”

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For now, Bogoch said we should focus on rolling out the approved vaccines as quickly as possible, in the manner in which they are meant to be administered.

“The goal is to have as few vaccines in freezers as possible and get the needles in arms quickly as possible to the highest risk groups and prevent death and suffering,” he said.

–With files from Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Quebec confirms it will delay second vaccine dose for CHSLD residents and staff – Montreal Gazette



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On Feb. 15, Quebec will begin vaccinating seniors ages 80 and over who live at home.

Health officials told the Montreal Gazette this week that they aren’t ready to release details about the next phase of vaccination plan.

Public health authorities say they’re closely monitoring seniors in CHSLDs who have received the first dose to make sure it’s still effective weeks later, said Richard Massé, a public health epidemiologist.

Massé defended Quebec’s decision to ignore a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Vaccination, which said if provinces delay administering the second dose due to logistical or epidemiological reasons, it should be given with 42 days of the first dose.

On Thursday, Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, which includes the Chief Medical Officer of Health from each province and territory, also weighed in on Quebec’s plan, saying if the second dose is extended beyond 42 days, “the impact on people vaccinated must be closely monitored.”

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Wife of Nunavut man who died from COVID-19 pleads with people to get vaccinated – CTV News



The wife of a Nunavut man who died from COVID-19 after contracting it in his community is urging the territory’s residents to get vaccinated.

Diane Sammurtok’s husband Luki died in December after being flown from his home in Arviat to a southern hospital.

Sammurtok called in to Arviat’s local radio station and pleaded with people to get the vaccine.

A recording of the call was played at a news conference today and broadcast over radio and television.

Speaking through tears and sobs, Sammurtok said she doesn’t want anyone to go through what she did.

Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is from Arviat, had tears in his eyes as he listened and his voice shook as he addressed the media.

Savikataaq urged people to stop spreading misinformation about the vaccine and said he will get it when it’s his turn.

Vaccination clinics are underway in four Nunavut communities this week and are tol roll out in four more next week.

There are no active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

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Pfizer investigates post-vaccine death for possible connection – Mint



Pfizer Inc. and federal health officials are investigating the death of a health-care worker 16 days after the person received the first dose of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine.

So far, the evidence doesn’t suggest a connection, Pfizer said in a statement on Tuesday. The Florida-based physician developed a rare disorder called severe thrombocytopenia that decreases the body’s ability to clot blood and stop internal bleeding.

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Pfizer cited its clinical trials and data gathered since the vaccine was authorized in the US in reporting its initial conclusion that the evidence doesn’t suggest a causal association to the shot it developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE. Meanwhile, the x said it is aware of the death, and “will evaluate the situation as more information becomes available,” according to spokesman Tom Skinner.

“To date, millions of people have been vaccinated and we are closely monitoring all adverse events in individuals receiving our vaccine,” Pfizer said in its statement. “It is important to note that serious adverse events, including deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine, are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population.”

Pfizer’s shares were down 2% to $37.03 at 3:14 pm in New York trading on a day when the company also said its 2021 adjusted earnings would be between $3 and $3.10 per share, less than what analysts were expecting.

The New York Times first reported news of the death of Gregory Michael, a 56-year-old obstetrician and gynecologist located in Miami Beach. The Times cited a Facebook post written on Jan. 5 by his wife, Heidi Neckelmann, who said Michael had died from a brain hemorrhage.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for emergency use in the US on Dec. 14, with health-care workers and those in long-term care facilities the first in line to get the shot. Thus far, 9.27 million shots have been administered of this vaccine and a second authorized vaccine developed by Moderna Inc., according to a state-by-state tally by Bloomberg and data from the CDC.

The CDC, along with the US Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies, regularly review Covid-19 vaccine safety monitoring data and share their findings with a group of vaccine safety experts, who provide independent guidance to the federal officials, according to the CDC’s Skinner.

“Our thoughts are with the family during this heartbreaking time,” Skinner said.

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