The third wave of COVID-19 is almost imminent and experts had hinted that it would be led the Omicron variant – which has been declared ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO). Though there are indications that the third wave will be milder and there will be significantly less hospitalisation, it is still possible that a large section of the population can get affected. This is why the government has approved booster doses, which it has termed as ‘precaution dose’. The nation is gearing up to administer ‘precaution doses’ to frontline workers and senior citizens with co-morbidities from January 10. Ahead of this, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has urged states and Union Territories to make sure not to mix COVID-19 vaccines doses. However, a new study has suggested that mixing doses of Covaxin and Covishield is absolutely safe.
The study, conducted by AIG Hospitals along with researchers from the Asian Healthcare Foundation, has found that mixing of vaccines is absolutely safe and no adverse effect on participants was noticed.
For the study, the researchers mixed Covaxin and Covishield and tested it on 330 healthy volunteers. These volunteers were neither vaccinated nor had any history of COVID-19 infection.
The researchers divided 44 people into four groups and were administered doses in the below-mentioned manner:
Group 1: First and second dose of Covishield
Group 2: First and second dose of Covaxin
Group 3: First dose of Covishield and second dose of Covaxin
Group 4: First dose of Covaxin and second dose of Covishield
They were observed for 60 days to see if there is any adverse effects. The study found that the Spike-protein neutralising antibodies were significantly higher in the mixed vaccine groups when compared with the same-vaccine groups.
“Spike-protein neutralizing antibodies are the ones which kill the virus and reduce the overall infectivity. We found that when the first and second dose are of different vaccines, the Spike-protein antibody response is four times higher compared to two-dose of the same vaccine,” said Dr D Nageshwar Reddy – chairman, AIG Hospitals – who was among the researchers involved in the study.
The study holds significance as it comes at a time when the government is planning to administer a third booster dose. The entire concept of the third dose is to elicit a robust antibody response and help in killing the virus.
“Mixed doses can certainly boost these Spike-protein neutralizing antibodies and will enhance the vaccines’ effectiveness even against the Omicron variant,” Dr. Reddy further added.