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Are Vaccine Cocktails More Effective? Booster Dose 2022

Recent studies have reported vaccine cocktails to be the new weapon of choice against COVID-19. Instead of deciding which vaccine has more efficacy, scientists now propound vaccine mixing studies to be the ultimate solution! Global leaders are also showing increasing interest in vaccine cocktails as the best booster dose alternatives.

However, vaccine efficacy is not all that we have to consider. Questions like - why booster dose is required? Is vaccine safety an issue in mixed vaccine trials? Is booster dose available in India? – and more still remain unanswered.


Let’s find out why the world is now looking into vaccine cocktails as the most effective tool against upcoming waves of the deadly COVID-19.


Lancet Study 2021

The Lancet is a globally renowned peer-reviewed medical journal that is trusted worldwide.

On July 10, 2021, it published an interesting article about a vaccine mixing trial wherein 420 adults were first administered with the Covishield vaccine and then given the Pfizer vaccine after a period of 12 weeks.


The Lancet Study (2021) found that the immunity of the experimental group that was administered with two different vaccines enhanced by nearly 77-folds.


The study by the Lancet is not the only one pointing in this direction. Vaccine mixing is being regarded highly by ICMR-approved studies as well. Take a look at the impressive results of a vaccine mixing trial conducted closer to home – in India.


AIG Hospitals Study

A Hyderabad-based group of Hospitals (AIG Hospitals) recently conducted a “mix match pilot study” with Covishield and Covaxin to indicate that mixed trials resulted in 4 times more antibodies than regular vaccine doses. This study was conducted among 330 healthy adult individuals.


The Chairman of AIG Hospitals also added that none of the participants developed any adverse effects during or after the study.


Such cocktail vaccine trials have raised new questions in the minds of people. Discussions about how cocktail vaccines can benefit India’s Vaccination Drive are also doing the rounds.

Eminent doctors like G.C. Khilnani of the PRSI Institute of Pulmonary Care have also deemed vaccine cocktails as an effective mechanism to increase inoculation numbers in India.


If we are only able to vaccinate about 35-40 lakh people a day with our current resources, using Pfizer or Moderna can probably help us inoculate 90 lakh people a day.


With vaccine availability of booster doses up for a toss in countries like India, a cocktail of vaccines is said to be the best bet for fighting against COVID-19.


Vaccines with Highest Efficacy

The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India began in January 2021 with priority-based shots for medical practitioners and the elderly. Only two vaccines were approved for Emergency Use – Covishield, that is jointly produced by AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India (SII), and Covaxin, that is produced by the Indian firm Bharat Biotech.


In May 2021, the Government announced the roll-out of Sputnik V – a Russian vaccine jointly produced by the Gamaleya Institute of Moscow and SII.


Although there are 8 vaccines approved for Emergency Use in India as of January 2022, general administration is limited to the three vaccines mentioned above.


The central question remains…which vaccine has more efficacy?

Considering current public records, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) claims the Sputnik V vaccine to have an efficacy range of 78.6% to 83.7% making it the most effective vaccine available in India.


Are Vaccine Cocktails Safe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) swiftly responded to vaccine mixing trials with an advisory episode starring Dr. Katherine O’ Brien which aired in September 2021.

According to the WHO, cocktail vaccines should not be rampantly administered until there are more consolidated studies on their safety quotient. However, it has been sufficiently established that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be combined with other mRNA-based vaccines for increased efficacy.


Brien also says that the immediate after-effects of a cocktail vaccine dose aren’t significantly different from normal doses.


“The general short-term reactions that people get (like) not feeling well or a low-grade fever are… the same, whether you mix and match or whether you use the same regimen.” – Katherine O’ Brien (WHO)


However, there is limited information on vaccine safety in terms of long-term effects.

Furthermore, most people would agree upon the fact that vaccine mixing trials warrant further research. More studies need to emerge in the mainstream view to allow the general audience to make an informed decision.


In short - more people must know about the pros and cons of cocktail vaccines as the ideal booster dose.


Booster Dose for COVID-19 in 2022

Booster dose in India is a very recent affair. Scientists are yet to confirm whether a booster dose is necessary for India’s diverse population.


However, the Government of India continues to stress on inoculation as the only resort to counter COVID-19. While the primary goal is still the “complete” vaccination of all eligible individuals with 2 doses, the government has begun administering “prevention shots” to certain sections of the population from 10th January 2022.


Here are certain guidelines for booster dose eligibility in India.

  • Medical practitioners and frontline workers can take their prevention doses now.

  • Senior citizens, i.e., people above 60 years of age are eligible for a 3rd COVID vaccine dose. It is advisable to take the advice of one’s doctor for the same.

A mandatory gap of 9 months is required between the 2nd and the 3rd vaccine dose. Thus, you can only get your prevention shot after 9 months of being “fully vaccinated.”



The Government has not allowed vaccine mixing in India yet. Those who have been administered with Covishield for their 1st and 2nd dose are only eligible for a 3rd Covishield jab.


Conclusion


Overall, cocktail vaccines have provided extremely positive results and proved mixed trials a success for increased vaccine efficacy. However, there is a need for more rigorous research in this field before vaccine mixing can be standardized for the entire population.


Stay updated with the recent trends in India’s vaccination drive and follow up with Prevention Shot guidelines issued by the Government of India to stay safe and stay protected.

 


The Author :

Dr. Sunil Khattri

sunilkhattri@gmail.com

+91 9811618704


Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi

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