WASHINGTON, DC, May 31 — Scientists are studying a mix-and-match vaccine procedure that, they say, may enhance protection against COVID-19. The scientific journal, Nature, reports that studies in Spain and the U.K. indicate the likelihood that pairing first and second dose vaccines may have significant benefits.
According to microbiologist Ewen Callaway, who authored the article in Nature: “several European countries are already recommending that some or all people who were given a first dose of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, UK, and AstraZeneca in Cambridge, UK, get another vaccine for their second dose. Researchers hope that such mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccination regimens will trigger stronger, more robust immune responses than will two doses of a single vaccine, while simplifying immunization efforts for countries facing fluctuating supplies of the various vaccines.”
Immunologist Zhou Xing at Canada’s McMaster University reports that the Pfizer vaccine appears to boost antibody responses “remarkably” in patients who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., efforts are underway to entice individuals who have not yet been vaccinated as a means of inducing what is called, herd immunity, by increasing the vaccinated portion of the population as a means of stemming the spread of the disease. States are going to great lengths to convert vaccine naysayers. Maryland, Oregon, Ohio and New York, for example, are giving reluctant citizens lottery tickets in exchange for their getting their immunity shots. The program holds promise. Ohio says that immunization of the over 16 set increased by 28% soon after the program was announced.
A spokesman for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine points out that before the initiation of what is called the Vax-a-Million vaccine incentive fewer individuals were getting their shots. He says that obviously the lottery connection has had a very positive impact.
On a related note, it turns out that while more states go maskless and are no longer requiring adherence to self-distancing guidelines as vaccines succeed in checking the spread of the coronavirus, some of us are scared. Apparently a portion of our population have become “comfortable” with those protocols, so much so that they are afraid to give them up.
A recent article posted on the MedPageToday Website, authored by Dr. Taison Bell, many of us find comfort in our masks and the practice of self-distancing. He writes that people got used to those practices and now they find it hard to let go.
“It’s true that being fully vaccinated protects others around you from the coronavirus in the unlikely event you are infected. But it is also true that masks can add additional insurance, are ingrained in our psyche, and will likely become the enduring symbol of the pandemic. Wearing one and practicing physical distancing became a source of empowerment for many of us, and we don’t have to let it go just yet if we don’t want to,” according to Bell.
He says not to worry if you feel attached to your mask. We’ve been wearing masks for about a year and change now and so it’s okay to take your time adjusting to the new reality regarding masking.
Finally, mixed messages regarding the COVID vaccines have caused some confusion and concern. Chief among those messages is the report that some 10,000 people who received their vaccines have fallen ill and that about 160 died. It’s tragic, of course, but Dr. A.H. Mokdad, at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics put those numbers into perspective in the journal, Medscape Medical News.
As he put it: “Ten thousand is a very small number compared to the hundreds of millions we have vaccinated. It’s way better than any flu vaccine we have had in our lives.” As for the fact that some individuals were infected, despite getting vaccinated, Mokdad noted that that so-called “breakthrough” infections are to be expected because no vaccine is 100% effective. He also pointed out that breakthrough cases have been asymptomatic or mild in general.
In conclusion, Mokdad stated “We defang COVID-19, that’s how I see it. And that’s what we want.”