RCSI Bahrain joint research proves efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccination programme

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RCSI Bahrain in collaboration with the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus COVID-19 in Bahrain, the Supreme Council of Health, the Ministry of Health and Bahrain Defence Force – Royal Medical Services, published the results of successful joint research proving the efficacy and safety of a particular combined COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2) vaccination programme, among key global studies. The research was published on 23rd January 2023 in the scientific journal “Vaccine”, a peer-reviewed medical journal, published by Elsevier, for medical professionals interested in vaccinology, vaccines and vaccination.

Bahrain started its vaccination programme against COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2) in May 2021 with a “mix-and-match” strategy between different vaccines. After summarising the evidence from clinical trials in Bahrain and other countries using Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV) and a few studies reporting tangible benefits, the feedback showed the weakening of immunity, increased infection and immune-evasive COVID-19 variants among Sinopharm-vaccinated patients. As a result, booster vaccine doses were widely advocated to address those concerns.

This joint research is the first to report on the efficacy and safety of a COVID-19 vaccination programme involving Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV) and Pfizer (BNT162b2) vaccines in individuals initially vaccinated with two doses of Sinopharm. The research showed a more robust immune response in the patient group who received both Sinopharm and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations compared to the patient group who received Sinopharm vaccination only (both as vaccination and booster doses), with significantly greater levels of the spike (S) protein-specific antibodies. The spike protein is a structure of the SARS-COV-2 virus, recognisable by the immune system, which signals the neutralising antibodies as a tool for fighting a viral infection.

The study also showed that the patient group who received both Sinopharm and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations had a lower rate of serious adverse events compared to the patient group solely vaccinated with Sinopharm vaccination. Overall, the adverse events were all minor, indicating that the vaccination combination was a safe and well-tolerated option.