In view of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant in the country, there will be no mixed-end-match of the vaccine to give the important third dose, a senior source in the Ministry of Health told NDTV today.
The caution dose will be the third dose of the same vaccine taken by an individual – be it covshield or covacin. The key aspect will be the gap – the third dose will be given to health and frontline workers and senior citizens with co-morbidities 9-12 months after the second dose is given, the source said.
Experts are meeting today to create a rollout mechanism for precautionary doses, starting January 10.
There has been considerable debate around the world as to whether mixing the vaccine or sticking to the same vaccine for a third dose provides better protection. Although specific data for both booster doses have not yet been obtained, the combination of vaccines for the first and second shots triggered a stronger immune response.
A key study on mixing COVID-19 vaccines from the UK found that people had better immunity when they took the first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech shots and followed Moderna nine weeks later, according to Monday’s results.
“We’ve had a really good immune response across the board …, in fact, two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine exceeded the prescribed threshold,” Oxford professor Matthew Snape was quoted as saying at the Reuters trial.
A recent study from Oxford University in the United Kingdom found that a third dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine – known in India as Covishield and responsible for about 90 percent of the doses administered in the country – significantly increased antibodies against Omicron.
The study also found that resistance began to decline after three months from the two doses currently being given.
In response, a section of physicians and the Indian Medical Association repeatedly asked the government to provide additional doses to front-line and health workers and those with weak or uncompromising immunity.
The number of cases of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant in India has crossed 400, with the highest number of infections reported in Maharashtra.