India is running its vaccine campaign at full swing now, trying to get as many people vaccinated against the coronavirus.
However, there seem to be a few problems coming up in that, one of them being the shortage of the vaccine itself in the country. It appears that India has more population than it has vaccine doses.
This is not quite new, as the issue of vaccine shortage has been plaguing authorities for over a month now. Some also questioned if this was because India chose to export some of its domestically produced vaccines outside.
Dr. NK Arora, chairman of the government panel National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), even reportedly said that India will experience a vaccine shortage for around 6 weeks for now.
Speaking to ANI he said “We use scientific evidence and make the best use of vaccines which we are using at the moment. We are not just trying to have the best efficacy but also trying to see that the country is protected from various variants and waves of corona going forward. We know corona will stay for some time and we want to ensure that the people are adequately protected. Here, I must also say that the vaccine shortage is only for the next six weeks.”
It is true that mutations and different variants of the COVID-19 spreading in India, along with black, white, and now yellow fungus have been taxing on the vaccine drive in the country.
But people are also getting tired of having to stand in long waiting lines or even if on online platforms, trying to get a first or second slot to get vaccinated.
In the midst of all this, some people are asking if a mix and match can be done with the vaccine.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine cocktail help people?
Currently, India has 3 approved vaccines being distributed, Covishield (AstraZeneca’s Indian version), Covaxin, and Sputnik V.
There are also reports that other vaccines Like Zydus Cadila, Johnson & Johnson and more will be entering India in the coming months.
But with the shortage, people are not exactly able to get the vaccine of their choice. And the wait for a slot to get one is even longer.
In such a scenario, some people are wondering if it is possible and safe to mix two different COVID vaccine doses.
As per experts, the question is not that absurd and a COVID vaccine cocktail of sorts could be done.
Business Standard spoke to Polly Roy, professor of virology in the Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology in the Infectious and Tropical Diseases faculty at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
When asked if one can mix and match different vaccines Roy said “No, it is not dangerous at all. It is better. I already said months ago that vaccines should be mixed and matched. The data just came out from [a study of 673 people who took a dose of] AstraZeneca followed by [a dose of] Pfizer [vaccines] in Spain. And 600 people have much better [neutralizing antibodies] and much higher than if you take the same type of vaccine twice. Mixing-and-matching could be very good, as has been done with the Ebola virus successfully before. So, I think that is a very good idea.”
BS asked if it would be possible to get one Covishield and one Covaxin dose and Roy said that “Biologically, there is no problem with that.”
Roy also added that, “I think it would be very good also for India to mix-match the two vaccines they have currently.”
Excerpt from Business Standard
India now has the Sputnik V vaccine, which is going to be rolled out. Different states are also trying to import other vaccines. So as more vaccines come, should people just take whatever vaccine they can get their hands on and it’s fine?
Yes. In my knowledge and experience, I feel Sputnik V is one of the best vaccines because of the way it was made. They designed it very nicely. From the beginning, they are getting 91-92% protection in their clinical trial. They showed that.
I think we should try to mix and match vaccines in every country to make sure that we get the best protection, best neutralising antibodies.
Is mixing two COVID vaccines safe?
There are mixed reports on how safe it is if one takes two different COVID vaccine doses.
Some experts feel that vaccination doses should not be mixed. Reports state that this is because every vaccine is created differently and responds differently.
Mixing two different vaccines might not always result in suitable outcomes. However, it is not like it has not been done before or even being restricted now.
During the Ebola outbreak, this mix-and-match of vaccines was used but how effective this was is unclear.
China is also looking at mixing vaccine doses. Norway, Spain, and Sweden are also offering citizens the option to get a different vaccine for their second dose.
But experts are continuously saying that while it might be theoretically and scientifically possible, there is very little research data on its aftereffects.
Dr. VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog, commented that currently there is “no robust scientific evidence and only time will tell” if this mix and match is possible for Covishield and Covaxin.”
Fortunately, though there are several medical studies going on testing the efficacy of creating a COVID vaccine cocktail and what it could result in.
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