The government this Monday announced the change to the standard for Pfizer’s vaccine against Covid-19, extending the period between the two doses required for immunization. “We want to update DG Health Standard 21 on the Pfizer vaccine, increasing the dose between the first and second dose from 21 to 28 days. This decision will enable over 100,000 people to be vaccinated by the end of March, ”announced Foreign Minister and Health MP António Lacerda Sales at a press conference.
Earlier last week, PUBLIC asserted that the possibility of delaying the second dose of this vaccine by a week was being examined and that a decision could be made by the end of this week.
In the same week, the task force coordinator on the committee hypothesized that the two attitudes were broadened to monitor measures to combat the pandemic. Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo warned MPs that the two-week postponement of the second vaccine dose would allow 200,000 elderly people aged 80 and over to be vaccinated by the end of March.
The interview with the Minister of Health Lusa published this Monday made us guess this change in the norm. “Directorate-General for Health, Infarmed and the Vaccination Task Force have analyzed the possibility of a greater gap between doses and believe that this possibility is technically appropriate while maintaining the recommendations on the characteristics of the medicine,” said Marta Temido.
The minister stated that “the point is not to take the second dose or to exceed the interval set in the clinical trials – the intervals tested were between 19 and 42 days – but to create management that allows more people to be reached faster to protect . “This technical change is being planned and will come into effect as soon as the new vaccinations are available,” said the minister. The change, says Lusa, does not affect who has been vaccinated and the second dose is already scheduled.
According to the Ministry of Health released this weekend, Portugal received 1,034,970 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 for a total of 837,887 doses. Of these, 574,062 correspond to first doses and 263,825 to second doses.
The European regulator found “small delays” acceptable
The possibility of increasing the distance between the doses was requested by the Technical Commission for Vaccinations against Covid-19 of the deposit guarantee system in late January in order to counteract the shortage of vaccines. The doses originally contracted with the European Commission with the three companies whose vaccines have already been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – Pfizer, Moderna and Astrazeneca – have not been met and countries are receiving fewer doses than expected. that limited the vaccination schedule. At this point, however, the proposal was not accepted by the Task Force.
Around this time, the Minister of Health announced that Portugal, along with other countries, had consulted the EMA about the possibility of postponing the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine after 21 days. Later, in an interview with Visão magazine, Marte Temido announced that he had already received the answer and that the EMA had recommended the 21-day break.
At the end of February, the EMA Lusa admitted in a written reply that small shifts in taking the second dose were “acceptable”. “Vaccines against Covid-19 should be used as per the approved information on their products, which describes how they should be used to achieve the level of protection observed in the large randomized trials supporting the effectiveness of these vaccines,” said he.
When asked about Portugal’s hypothesis of postponing the second dose without reacting directly, the EMA cited the example of the studies conducted for the Pfizer vaccine on “giving two doses with an interval of up to 42 Days ”. . “It should therefore be considered acceptable for the vaccine to be taken within two to three weeks later,” he concluded. In the case of a Moderna vaccine, the company recommended dosing interval is 21 days, and in Astrazeneca it is recommended that the second dose be given 12 weeks after the first dose.