India may begin testing to determine whether mixing two doses of different Covid-19 vaccines could boost immune response to the Sars-2 coronavirus, Dr NK Arora, the chairman of the Government of India’s Covid-19 working group, said.
Dr Arora-headed body is a part of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).
He made this important announcement amid speculation whether such mix and match could give better immunity against Sars-2 infection.
The debate over mixing two different doses of of Covid-19 vaccines gained momentum in India in the wake of some people getting different vaccines for their second dose.
Once such incidence was reported from Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district. Twenty were administered Covaxin as second dose. They had received Covishield as the first dose.
“India may soon start in few weeks testing feasibility of a regimen that mixes two different doses of Covid vaccines to see if it helps boost immune response to virus,” Dr Arora told news agency ANI on Monday.
Dr NK Arora said that Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) was ramping up its manufacturing capacity by 50 per cent. Quoting a letter by the SII dated May 30, Dr Arora said the vaccine maker would begin producing 10-12 crore doses June onwards.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, said Dr Arora, would scale up its manufacturing capacity by July-end. This could lead to production of 10-12 crore doses of Covaxin each month, he said.
“By August, we will have 20-25 crore vaccine doses per month; another 5-6 crore doses from other manufacturing units or if we get international vaccine doses. The objective is to vaccinate 1 crore people every day,” said Dr NK Arora.
The government will also review the impact of its decision to extend the gap between Covishield doses, which will also help decide on a possible single-dose plan for the vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India.
Single dose vaccination will help the government cover a much wider base of the population
Vaccines like Johnson & Johnson and Sputnik Light, which are based on a similar principle as Astrazeneca, are single dose, so Covishield should work as one too.