In news- India is planning an exercise to investigate if it can immunise people using a “mix and match” of different Covid-19 vaccines.
- It means following up one dose of a particular vaccine with a second dose of a different vaccine.
- This is called “heterologous” immunisation.
- At present, India in its vaccination programme is currently using Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V vaccines and this practice has not been approved yet.
- Mix and match of Covid-19 vaccines have benefits like better immune response, provide wider protection against certain mutations or variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and plug the shortage in vaccine supply.
- The concerns include the safety of mix and match, untested combinations, differences in the shelf life of vaccines, their shipment and storage conditions and contraindications like their side-effects.
- Though mixing and matching of vaccines has been tested for decades, especially for viruses like Ebola, most combinations had initially been restricted to vaccines that use the same technology.
- In India, combinations of rotavirus vaccines have also been used and tested out.
- In the US, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in January allowed a mix and match of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID (both mRNA jabs), under “exceptional” circumstances.
- Canada, the UK and countries in the EU have offered their younger population the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as an alternative to AstraZeneca.
- Spain and South Korea have also been looking into a mix and match of these vaccines.
- Russia has been planning on testing a combination of the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines.