11 July 2024

A leading Thai virologist, Dr. Yong Poovorawan, and Professor Dr. Wasun Chantratita, head of the Centre for Medical Genomics at Ramathibodi hospital, believe that a mix-and-match vaccine regimen may offer protection against the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

Dr. Yong, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, said in his Facebook post today (Tuesday) that mutations of coronavirus occur all the time, but the important thing is where the mutations take place and how they function.

He noted that antibodies generated by the body to fight a viral infection are more effective than those generated after inoculation with some vaccines developed from only spike proteins.

He hopes that, in the future, there will be more research on hybrid immunity, which should offer better protection against virus mutations. He added that, as Thailand has administered several vaccines, and mixed and matched them, that vaccine regimen may offer protection against the new variant.

In a TV interview on the News One satellite TV Channel on Monday, Dr. Wasun explained that, while the mixed use of vaccines, especially inactivated vaccines which are widely used in Thailand, may not generate a high level of immune response, the antibodies from the inactivated vaccines can recognise the virus, despite mutations in its spike protein and, hence, can offer some sort protection against Omicron, which has multiple spike mutations.

Coronavirus has undergone multiple mutations in Africa, because many people on that continent still do not have access to vaccines and the collection of genetic codes of the variants is rare there, said Dr. Wasun, adding that, in Thailand, the majority of the people have been vaccinated and health officials have kept a close watch on the pandemic in all parts of the country.

As there is limited information about Omicron, he said that it is still too early to say for certain whether the new variant will be more potent than others.

Likening human beings to guinea pigs at the moment, Dr. Wasun said it cannot yet be determined, for certain, which vaccines are effective against the new variant.

Thailand has administered two Chinese-made inactivated vaccines widely, Sinovac and Sinopharm.