India will soon begin testing the effectiveness and safety of mixing two different COVID-19 vaccines for a better immune response. The testing will consist of eight vaccines from the ones that are already available and those which are currently in pipeline, the Indian Express reported.
Dr N K Arora, chairman of the COVID-19 working group under the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), said that the tests are expected to begin in a few weeks, according to the report.
The three approved vaccines in India – Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, RDIF'S Sputnik V— will be included for the mixing test.
Other vaccines that are currently in Phase III trials or are being developed like Serum Institute’s Covovax, Biological E’s Corbevax, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D, Gennova’s mRNA vaccine, Bio E’s Indian version of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and Bharat Biotech’s intranasal Covid-19 vaccine might also be added to the combination trials.
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“We are looking for a combination of vaccines that provide better protection. At the moment, the vaccines used are providing protection against severe disease, but they are not providing protection from infection and transmission of the virus to the extent that we would have liked,” Dr Arora said.
“Both the vaccines individually would be safe, but the focus is also to see if they are safe together… These vaccines are produced on different platforms and we don’t want them to create difficulty and create complications, so every vaccine will probably not be possible to mix and match,” he added.
The idea to find out the effectiveness of the combination of COVID-19 vaccines came to the fore after a vaccination centre in Uttar Pradesh gave 20 patients mixed doses of Covishield and Covaxin. While authorities were quick to explain that none of the patients suffered any adverse effects, it highlighted the blaring gap in India's COVID-19 vaccine strategy.
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First Published: IST