The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) on Monday said that the government decision to use the Pfizer vaccine to immunise people in 20-30 age group in Hambantota was irrational and unscientific.
AMS President Dr. Lakkumar Fernando said, in a statement, that the priority should be given to saving lives, and reducing hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients.
“For this purpose, we need to initially immunise the vulnerable, i.e. those over 60 years and those with co morbidities. Though recommended, this policy was not implemented initially, and as a result the death rate has increased. However, we appreciate the fact that the over 60 year group is now being immunised. In addition, a sizeable proportion of fully vaccinated people are also succumbing to Covid 19, or occupying much-needed hospital beds and ICUs.”
The AMS says immunisation has to be done in a scientific manner. The rational policy would be to immunise the unvaccinated vulnerable people as a priority, and then to consider a booster dose to the fully vaccinated group who are at risk of severe disease.
Data from Bahrain and also from Prof. Malavige’s group suggests that, while people below 60 years mount a good immune response to Sinopharm vaccine, it is evident that a minority of people of over 60 years do not produce an antibody response (seroconvert) and are at a higher risk of hospitalisation and death, compared to those given Pfizer/Moderna/ Astra- Zeneca (AZ) vaccines. In addition, certain groups (transplant recipients/cancer patients on therapy/recipients of immunosuppressive drugs) do not mount an adequate immune response following two doses of vaccine. Both these groups should receive a third dose of AZ/Pfizer/Moderna vaccine to prevent such undesirable outcome.
“We have a limited quantity of AZ/mRNA vaccines. In such a situation, we find the administration of the Pfizer vaccine to healthy persons in the 20-30 age group who can effectively mount an adequate immune response with the Sinopharm vaccine, is irrational and unscientific. We believe that administration of Covid vaccines should be done with the advice of a competent body of experts, such as the ACCD of the Ministry of Health. Deviation from the advice of the ACCD has already cost many lives by offering Covid vaccines to 30 to 60 age group before completing the vaccination of above 60-year age group. We hope that, even at this late stage, decisions will be taken in a more rational manner based on scientific evidence,” he said. (RK)