The Union Health Ministry has clarified that mixing and matching of vaccines will not be started in India yet. VK Paul of the NITI Aayog (Health) told the media on Tuesday that mixing of vaccine doses — for example, taking first dose of Covishield and second dose of Covaxin — may have been proven to be useful in some studies, but since there is a chance of increased side-effects as well, the Union government is waiting for more research and data before changing the policy. This comes after ‘promising’ data recently released from mix-and-match trials in Spain and the United Kingdom suggests mix and match schedules may give higher antibody levels than two doses of a single vaccine.
On the mixing of vaccines, VK Paul said that if a person takes the first dose of Vaccine ‘A’ and takes the second dose of Vaccine ‘B,’ there is a possibility that the human body may have a severe reaction to the second dose. On the other hand, he added that science is also showing that when one gets a dose of vaccine B, the possibility of a positive effect is also plausible.
“Mixing doses is possibly useful, but severe reaction and harm cannot be ruled out, so there is research going on in other countries, some have spoken about mixing Covishield and Pfizer. This is a matter of science, and till the scientific question is not resolved, we are not making any changes in the vaccination policy in India. Till then, there is no mixing of vaccines,” VK Paul said.
The Health Ministry has said that if a person has taken the first dose of Covaxin, they should go for the second dose of Covaxin as per the current rules in place.
The Health Ministry has also added that there is no change in the dosage for Covishield dosage and for both vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, people should take both doses.
“I would like to clarify that Covishield’s schedule in India is of two doses and the second dose will be taken after 12-16 weeks. There is no change in this. Covaxin also has a schedule of two doses, where the second dose is to be taken after 4-6 weeks. This schedule will continue in the vaccination drive across India. There should be no misunderstanding or confusion in this. Everyone has to take two doses of the vaccine,” Paul said.
On vaccine shortage, Indian Council of Medical Research has said that the country is poised to vaccinate all by December this year.
"There is no shortage of vaccines, shortage is what you feel when you want to vaccinate the country within a month,” ICMR DG Balram Bhargav said. "By mid-July-August we will have enough to give one crore doses. We should be able to vaccinate all by December."