Brussels [Belgium], July 14 (ANI): Amid the rapid global spread of the coronavirus Delta variant, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has urged EU citizens to get vaccinated and to adhere to the recommended number of doses.
"Currently, EMA and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) are not in a position to make any definitive recommendations on use of different COVID-19 vaccines for the two doses. Nonetheless, preliminary results from studies in Spain, Germany, and the UK suggest a satisfactory immune response and no safety concerns," the EMA said in a statement.
While urging the European citizens to take into account the spread of the Delta variant, the EMA stated vaccination remains one of the best protective measures against COVID-19.
The EU agency further stated that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is a variant of concern that is spreading fast in Europe and may seriously hamper efforts to control the pandemic.
"Evidence suggests it is 40 per cent to 60 per cent more transmissible than the earlier Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant which was the first major variant of concern in the EU. In addition, the Delta variant may be associated with higher risk of hospitalisation," the statement stated.
European CDC estimates that by the end of August the Delta variant will represent 90 per cent of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the EU, it added. The EMA has therefore suggested using different vaccines for the second dose from the ones used for the first dose.
"Another such adaptation is that experts responsible for the vaccination programmes in over half of Member States have decided, with a view to their national situations, to use different vaccines for the second dose from the ones used for the first dose," the EMA said.
"A heterologous vaccination strategy (sometimes referred to as 'mix and match'), in which a different vaccine is given for the second dose in a recommended 2-dose schedule, has historically been applied for some other vaccines. There are good scientific grounds to expect this strategy to be safe and effective when applied to vaccination against COVID-19," it added.
The agency further said that the use of a heterologous vaccination strategy may allow populations to be protected more quickly and make better use of available vaccine supplies. (ANI)