COVID-19: People who received AstraZeneca vaccine should get mRNA for second jab - Mills

An immunologist wants to see people who received AstraZeneca for their first dose of a COVID-19 v...

08.43 27 Jun 2021

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COVID-19: People who received...

COVID-19: People who received AstraZeneca vaccine should get mRNA for second jab - Mills


08.43 27 Jun 2021

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An immunologist wants to see people who received AstraZeneca for their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine get a "boost" from either a Pfizer or Moderna inoculation for their second jab.

Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, believes it would be one way to provide additional protection against the Delta variant of the disease.

The strain, originally detected in India, is more transmissible and now accounts for 20% of the cases in Ireland.


Advisors to NPHET have warned that the variant could become the dominant strain by the middle of next month.

It is reported today that the Government is considering a two-week delay to the reopening of pubs and restaurants for indoor dining on July 5th.

The Business Post writes that it may be pushed back to July 19th, when international travel is set to resume.

Speaking to Newstalk, Professor Mills said the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant in Ireland is worrying.

"I'm concerned about the growing level of the Delta variant in Ireland, and probably more concerned about it in the UK because there the numbers of the Delta variant are now at 95% of all cases," he said.

"They've had 35,000 cases in the last week of the Delta variant and 500 of those have ended up in hospital, some of them have been vaccinated, including with two doses so that's telling us that this virus is in certain individuals escaping immunity generated by the vaccines so that's very concerning.

covid-19 A doctor dressed in a protective suit observes a PCR COVID-19 test. Photo: Xisco Navarro / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

"With the vaccine schedule at the moment, there are some issues with it in that it's fine for the under-50 group because they're getting two doses of an mRNA vaccine that are very effective against the Delta variant.

"Unfortunately then, that's not the case with the AstraZeneca vaccine and some people in their 50s to 60s and 60s to 70s and some people with underlying medical conditions are still waiting for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and they're vulnerable now at this stage because if the Delta variant increases, they could be vulnerable to getting infected and developing COVID-19

"So that's a concern for them."

Professor Mills is hopeful that NIAC will look at the possibility of giving people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca their second dose with an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna.

"One solution to this is a boost with an mRNA vaccine," he said.

"Data from Germany that was published during the week showed that there is a huge benefit of this in terms of inducing a very strong result when you mix the two vaccines.

"I'm hoping that NIAC will take not of that study from Germany and recommend a similar policy here, as has been recommended in a lot of countries across Europe, Canada and South Korea."

Reopening plans

Meanwhile, the hospitality sector is calling for the Cabinet to meet sooner next week to decide on a further easing of restrictions from July 5th.

NPHET are due to meet on Wednesday, with a decision expected to be made by the Government on Thursday.

It comes as 443 new cases of coronavirus were reported in Ireland yesterday.

Some health experts have been calling for the Government to defer the reopening plans, with one leading immunologist believing that 80% of the adult population should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before additional lockdown measures are lifted.

Along with the return of indoor hospitality next month, the restrictions are also set to be eased on household visits, weddings, organised gatherings and indoor fitness training.

"There's certainly concern about people gathering in indoor settings, so that is worrying, especially for people who haven't been vaccinated," Professor Mills said.

"I think for people who are fully vaccinated, there's less concern.

"There's also a case to be made for the use of antigen testing for larger venues so that people can be tested and if they test negative, it can be one measure that might help to reduce transmission in those settings."

Main image: A health worker prepares a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand. Photo: Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak

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