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Serum Institute’s Cyrus Poonawalla isn’t in favour of mixing vaccines. Here’s why

"I am against the mixing of two different vaccines. There is no need to mix two different vaccines," Poonawalla said when asked about a recent ICMR study that a cocktail of Covishield and Covaxin could generate better immunity.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 13, 2021 9:56:38 pm
Cyrus Poonawalla

Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Covishield-maker Serum Institute of India (SII), Friday said he was opposed to the idea of mixing Covid vaccines as it might lead to a blame game between the drug manufacturers, news agency PTI reported.

“I am against the mixing of two different vaccines. There is no need to mix two different vaccines,” Poonawalla said when asked about a recent ICMR study that a cocktail of Covishield and Covaxin could generate better immunity.

Talking to reporters after receiving the Lokmanya Tilak National Award in Pune, he said that the efficacy of this approach has not been proven in field trials involving thousands of participants.

“If cocktail vaccines are administered and if the result is not good, then SII may say that another vaccine was not good, vice versa, the other company might say that since you mixed Serum’s vaccine, it did not give desired results,” he added.

A study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) found that mixing doses of Covishield and Covaxin showed better immunogenicity — the ability to generate an immune response — than those who received two doses of the same vaccine.

In May, 18 villagers in Siddarthnagar, Uttar Pradesh, had inadvertently received Covaxin as the second dose, six weeks after they got Covishield. The study compared their reaction to 40 recipients of two doses of Covishield and 40 recipients of two doses of Covaxin.

“Immunogenicity profile against Alpha, Beta and Delta variants in the heterologous group was superior; IgG antibody and neutralising antibody response of the participants was also significantly higher compared to that in the homologous groups,” ICMR had said.

According to the study, the findings have an “important implication” for the Covid-19 vaccination programme wherein “heterologous immunisation will pave the way for induction of improved and better protection against the variant strains of SARS-CoV-2”.

The researchers have said such mixed regimens will help to “overcome the challenges of shortfall of particular vaccines” and “remove hesitancy around vaccines in people’s mind that could have genesis in programmatic ‘errors’ especially in settings where multiple Covid-19 vaccines are being used”.

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