coronavirus in connecticut

Study Shows Mixing Booster Brands is Safe and Effective

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“My first one was December 20th,” recalled Dora Proe of Thomaston.

Proe got the Moderna shot nearly 10 months ago.  A hospital employee, she’s read the research that shows the vaccine’s effectiveness may wane after six months.

“I do worry about that. I do,” she said.

This week, the National Institutes of Health released a study showing that it’s not only safe but also effective to mix and match Covid-19 vaccine booster shots. 

The study looked at 458 volunteers who received a booster from a different maker than their initial vaccination.  According to the report, all of the boosters created an increase in antibody levels without side effects. 

“The one kicker was that the people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine first when they got the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, these mRNA vaccines, they got much better, stronger antibody responses than if they got the Johnson & Johnson as a booster vaccine,” Dr. Albert Ko of the Yale School of Public Health said of the research.

Moderna and Pfizer patients saw similar levels of effectiveness from either company’s booster shots.

“The evidence is pretty strong in the sense that the vaccines do what we expect them to do when you give a booster,” said Ko.

“I think they’re all effective,” said Lisa McCabe of Lyme.

McCabe got the Moderna vaccine in April but she said she has no problem getting a different brand of booster shot. 

“It can’t be worse than Covid or the Covid variant.  I’m fine with mixing,” said McCabe.

The NIH study has yet to be peer-reviewed and scientists, including Ko, warn more research is needed. 

“That study only looked at antibody responses to the Covid-19 virus in the first month after the boost was given and surely that’s really promising news, but we do want to see what’s going to happen as the time goes on,” said Ko.

Ko also said that the study didn’t take into account whether the response was better than it would have been if the subject received a booster that matched their vaccine.

Still, he added that he thinks the FDA and CDC will act quickly to vet the new information and make a decision in a month.

“I personally prefer to stick with what I already got,” said Proe. “As soon as it is and is offered I will be one of the first to go out there and get it.”

She may not have to wait much longer.  Thursday, an FDA advisory committee recommended giving emergency authorization for the Moderna booster.

Covid Patient Urges Approval

“There were 10 of us on my floor.  Eight of us came home,” said Lynne Lumsden.

Lumsden said she spent 10 weeks fighting Covid, including one in the hospital.

“There isn’t an orifice in the body including the skin that isn’t affected,” Lumsden recalled. “Every part of me was miserable.”

While Lumsden will be able to get the Pfizer booster because she got the Pfizer vaccine in May, her husband who also tested positive for Covid-19, got Moderna.  Like all Moderna and Johnson & Johnson patients, he’s waiting for FDA and CDC approval of those boosters. Lumsden would like him to be able to get the Pfizer booster that’s already been approved.

 “It is a much more serious disease than anybody tells you,” she said. "They have no way to cure Covid.  They just put you on oxygen and give you Tylenol and Robitussin, and steroids, and pray with you. It’s your own body that has to fight this thing.”

This NIH study is expected to be shared with the Food and Drug Administration at their meeting on Friday, but no action is expected to be taken as their focus will be on whether to recommend emergency authorization for the Johnson & Johnson booster for Johnson & Johnson patients.

Dr. Ko said he does not believe this research will lead to the federal government allowing the mixing and matching of the initial vaccine series, only the boosters.

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