GENEVA: WHO experts on Tuesday cautiously supported delaying the second injection of the Coronavirus vaccine Moderna in some situations, as they did with Pfizer-BioNTech.
The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has also insisted that international travelers should not give priority to any Covid-19 vaccine at this time.
During a meeting last week, experts discussed a Moderna vaccine that, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, uses mRNA technology and is being rolled out worldwide.
Both vaccines require boosters after three to four weeks, but many countries facing limited vaccine supplies have said they will delay the administration of the second injection until more people benefit from receiving the first dose.
The WHO Vaccine Advisory Group said it is best to respect the periods tested between doses of 21 days for Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days for Moderna.
But earlier this month, she said that in “exceptional circumstances” it was possible to wait up to 42 days to administer the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – and on Tuesday, she said the same for Moderna’s stabs.
SAGE chief, Alejandro Craviotto, warned in a hypothetical press briefing despite the “evidence we have does not go beyond that” for a six-week hiatus.
as soon as possible
The United Nations Health Agency has so far only approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but approval for Moderna is expected soon.
“We’re working with Moderna to go as quickly as possible,” WHO director of vaccines Kate O’Brien said at the online press conference.
Experts said the two vaccines are very similar, except for storage requirements, as Pfizer-BioNTech jab needs to be stored at -70 ° C, while Moderna doses can be stored at -20 ° C.
As vaccine supplies remain limited, the World Health Organization has called for priority to be given to health workers and the most vulnerable, and SAGE reinforced the message on Tuesday.
SAGE said: “In the current period of limited vaccine supplies, preferential vaccination for international travelers would contradict the principle of fairness.”
“Because of this, and the lack of evidence that vaccination reduces the risk of transmission, SAGE does not currently recommend Covid-19 vaccinations for travelers.”
Allergic reactions are ‘rare’
SAGE also recommended Tuesday that a Moderna vaccine, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, should only be administered in places that can handle a potential allergic reaction.
But experts stressed that this was the usual recommendation for most vaccination programs, pointing to the findings of US health authorities last week indicating that a severe allergic reaction to the modern vaccine was “rare”.
SAGE said there was not enough data to make recommendations about using Moderna injection while breastfeeding or during pregnancy.
Experts said that in cases where there is a shortage of vaccines, people who have contracted Covid-19 in the previous six months, and thus likely have immunity, can choose to postpone vaccination.
“We do not recommend that programs exclude individuals on this basis,” SAGE Executive Secretary Joachim Humpach said at the press conference.