Mixing of COVID vaccines being discussed – Dr Ramsammy

− says it is now a pandemic among unvaccinated population

It is now a pandemic among the unvaccinated as the COVID-19 continues to spread and give rise to new variants of concern, and local authorities are considering every move possible to ensure Guyanese are protected.
This was the position shared by Advisor to the Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, on Thursday, who noted that all measures are being looked at with the aim of tackling the extant pandemic crisis.

Advisor to the Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

He was at the time responding to Guyana Times on whether Government has considered vaccine mixing – a combination of different coronavirus jabs.
“All of these are things that are on the table. We are driven by science. No one should think these are not things we are not discussing. And at some point, based on science, we will make these decisions,” Dr Ramsammy noted.
In keeping with the Ministry’s mandate of implementing policies on an evidence-based tactic, the former Health Minister pointed out that vaccine mixing is common, and, in the case of COVID-19, studies are now pointing positively in this direction.
“Everything is on the table. Mixed vaccine is nothing new…and we now have accumulating evidence with COVID-19. The Russians have done a small study with Sputnik and AstraZeneca interchangeably. In Spain, Argentina, Chile, France and many countries, there are some trials going on in looking at mix-and-match. So yes, the homologous vaccines have been traditional, but heterologous is not anything new, and in the specific case of COVID-19, we see several small studies, and very prestigious journals have published some of these studies.”
This past week, Trinidad and Tobago updated vaccine combinations which are accepted in the country. These include AstraZeneca and Pfizer, as well as AstraZeneca and Moderna.
In Guyana, the Sputnik V, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm jabs have been used primarily in the vaccination of over 254,000 persons who took their first doses.

While Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony this week announced tough penalties for those caught forging and selling vaccine cards, Dr Ramsammy has also warned that this practice is dangerous, and can put people’s lives at risk. He said Government has been monitoring cases of such practice locally.
“In recent times, there is more noise. I know we are investigating a couple of cases now. The Minister has issued an order, and yes, we are looking at this. I think it’s a dangerous, dangerous thing, because you are allowing yourself to be reckless. But in putting yourself in danger, you’re putting others in danger. If all of us produce a card that we are vaccinated and we let our guard down a little bit, we are all in danger. This is where people should understand the danger,” Dr Ramsammy outlined.
He further stated that the virus is constantly mutating, and people should seek to protect themselves against deadlier strains which have been emerging. The Delta variant, first detected in India, has been creating a stir among health authorities as it continues to claim lives.
“We’re not dealing with the virus that came here in March, 2020. We are dealing with an entirely new virus. The Delta virus has proven to be five times more transmissible, but also more than 20 times more deadly. As dangerous as it is – and we need to protect ourselves – you could have a variant of that variant, and that variant can be even deadlier.
“But the deadlier and the greater transmissibility is only one challenge we have. The biggest challenge is that we could have a variant that is so unrecognisable that the vaccine doesn’t see it anymore. Then all of us who are vaccinated are back to the starting point,” he cautioned.