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COVID-19 Vaccine | India may allow mixing of Covishield and Sputnik jabs

NTAGI has suggested that people be allowed to freely choose their COVID-19 vaccine - as long as the vaccine platform is the same. e.g. Covishield and Sputnik V or Pfizer and Moderna jabs.

August 03, 2021 / 10:20 AM IST
(Representative Image: AP)

(Representative Image: AP)

The Indian government is considering allowing people to “freely choose” mixed vaccine jabs for COVID-19 vaccines – as long as both options are of similar platforms, Mint reported.

For example, individuals would be able to choose the first jab of Covishield and the second jab of Sputnik V — or vice versa, as both vaccines are adenovirus-based, or mix Pfizer and Moderna jabs, which are mRNA based.

The move would address vaccine supply constraints and comes amid “growing evidence” that mixing vaccines is “not only safe but also produces a strong immune response”, the report said.

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This was suggested by the COVID-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) and officials told the paper “final decision would be taken after considering scientific evidence”.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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NTAGI Chairman NK Arora said, “We would allow mixing and matching of some COVID-19 vaccines if a common platform for development is used”, but added the government continues to encourage using the same vaccine for both doses.

Arora said the “main purpose” of mixing and matching is to make vaccination easy. “People who are not getting the second dose of the same vaccine due to reasons ranging from unavailability of the brand to access may go for mix-and-match. A formal advisory in this regard will soon be released,” he added.

An NTAGI meet is scheduled for later in August.

Notably, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its interim recommendations said that mixing of recombinant vaccines like Covishield and Sputnik does not require an additional dose of either vaccine. It further said that the first dose of recombinant vaccine (e.g. Covishield/Sputnik) followed by a second jab of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/Moderna) showed “higher neutralizing antibody levels and T cell-mediated immune response” compared to both doses being recombinant or mRNA.

For full coverage on the coronavirus, pandemic click here
Moneycontrol News
first published: Aug 3, 2021 10:20 am

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