Mixing of Covid vaccines not protocol yet, clarifies Centre

Graded unlock process begins in several states as Covid-19 cases hit a 50-day low.

The Centre on Tuesday said that mixing of Covid-19 vaccines is not protocol yet and asserted that there is no change in the schedule of two-dose vaccines Covishield and Covaxin. The clarification came at a time when several states have initiated a graded unlock process with Covid-19 cases on a steady decline.

Briefing a press on Covid and vaccination-related updates in the country, Chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) and Member (Health) in NITI Aayog, Dr Vinod K. Paul, said: “We have heard that, it is being said that now only one dose of Covishield would be given. I would like to clarify that only two doses of Covishield are scheduled in India. After the first Covishield dose is administered, the second dose will be given after 12 weeks. There is no change. Covaxin also has two doses’ schedule, second dose to be administered in 4-6 weeks.”

“Second thing which has come is the mixing of the vaccine. Mixing of vaccine is not the protocol yet, the same vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) to be administered for both doses. Stick to the SOP,” he added. “There is international research underway on the mixing of vaccines as the possibility of a positive effect is also plausible, but a harmful reaction cannot be ruled out either. It is an unresolved scientific question, science will settle it,” he added.

Earlier, Dr N.K. Arora, Chairman of Covid-19 working group under the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), said that India may in few weeks start testing the feasibility of a regimen that mixes two different doses of Covid vaccines to see if it helps boost the immune response to the virus. The mixing of vaccine of Covid-19 has been discussed at the Covid-19 group, NTAGI and National Expert group on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC).

Dr Vinod K. Paul’s clarification came even as the coronavirus outbreak in the country seems to be mitigating as the number of fresh Covid-19 infections is declining. The states and the Union territories with a falling graph of Covid-19 cases have begun the unlocking process. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh are some states on this list.

On the contrary, states such as Maharashtra, Goa, Odisha, Telangana, Sikkim, and Kerala have continued with the lockdown as the infection rate and mortality rate is still high in some districts.

Though there are a few states with high numbers, the overall country’s infection statistics are falling. According to Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s information, 152,734 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours which is the lowest single-day rise in the last 50 days. The daily positivity rate is 9.07 per cent which is less than 10 per cent for the seventh consecutive day.

Delhi government has initiated the unlocking process on May 3 as the positivity rate has come down to 1.5%. The government has relaxed a few restrictions there. However, the other curbs will continue till 7 June. It has given a green light to the manufacturing and construction business. However, they have to follow strict Covid-19 guidelines at the workplace. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has stated that, if the cases start surging, the unlock process will be halted. He said, “We have to maintain a balance between controlling the spread of Covid-19 and allow economic activities.”

Maharashtra is still struggling to lower its Covid-19 infection rate. The state government has extended the lockdown till June 15. However, it has relaxed restrictions in the districts with fewer Covid-19 cases. The government has permitted the non-essential shops to operate in Mumbai on alternate weekdays from 7 am to 2 pm. These shops will remain shut during the weekend.

Except for 20 districts, the Uttar Pradesh government has eased the restriction in the rest of the state. However, the night curfew and weekend lockdown will continue throughout the state. In 55 districts, with less than 600 cases, the shops outside the containment zone have been permitted to operate during weekdays. Private businesses can function with limited staff and the government offices will open with half capacity.

Karnataka is under lockdown till 7 June. However, the state›s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on Monday has recommended the state should continue the lockdown, placing lives before livelihood.

The Madhya Pradesh government has announced that the «corona curfew» will last till June 15. As per the guidelines, not more than 20 people can attend a marriage ceremony. The number of people allowed at a funeral procession is 10. Only four people can gather at a religious place.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has extended the lockdown till June 9 with a few relaxations. He stated that all industries can function with minimal staff. Banks will operate on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Most other states have announced the “unlock” in the first half of June.