Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that frontline workers and senior citizens with comorbidities will be administered ‘precaution doses’ from January 10 next year. However, there is a lot of ambiguity over how the process of providing ‘precaution doses’ will move ahead. Clearing the air, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Health Authority (NHA) Dr RS Sharma recently said that senior citizens with comorbidities will have to show a medical certificate in order to get the ‘precaution dose’. However, many people are still wondering whether it would be a third dose of the same vaccine that they have been administered or it will be a mix-and-match of vaccines available in India.
Some reports are claiming that ‘precaution doses’, as termed by the prime minister during his address to the nation, will be a third dose of the same vaccine that a person would have taken. This clearly means that if a person has been inoculated with Covaxin, the ‘precaution doses’ will be of the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. The same goes with Covishield – which has been manufactured by Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd.
The key aspect of the entire process would be the gap – the precaution doses will be administered only to those who received their second at 9-12 months ago.
To chalk out a strategy on this, experts are scheduled to meet today. The meeting holds significance as there has been debate worldwide over the booster shots. It has been for long a topic of discussion whether to stick with the same vaccine for the third dose or go ahead with mix-and-match. The debate continues as there is no specific data available from both. However, a more robust immune response has been noticed by mixing vaccines for the first and second shots.
A key study from the United Kingdom suggested the people who received the first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech followed by a second shot of Moderna after nine weeks had a better immune response.