The Booster Dose administration for health and frontline workers and individuals aged 60 years and above, began in India on January 10. As per VK Paul, who spearheads India’s COVID 19 task force, the ICMR has not allowed mixing of vaccines for the Booster. This is in view of “fragmanetary” data points, though these studies do opine better protection with heterologous doses.
However, with homologous vaccination approved for the Booster dose in India, the question arises – what of those persons, who have got vaccines apart from Covishield and Covaxin administered in the two-dose drive outside India.
There are individuals across India who had been stranded or had travelled abroad to their children and families post the first lockdown, and got themselves administered with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc. How do they get their Booster Dose with Covishield or Covaxin? Taking a Covishield or Covaxin as Booster Dose will technically qualify as heterologous.
Udaipur Health Department has specifically said that in the absence of directives from the State Health Department, those who have been administered with any other vaccine apart from Covishield or Covaxin will not be recommended the Booster dose in India.
While 4 additional vaccines (Sputnik – V; ZyCoV-D; Corbevax and Corovax) have been approved in India, only two - Covishield and Covaxin have been largely administered. Even when Booster Dose is concerned, senior experts say that additional dosing seems poised to run into conflict with the standard two-dose vaccine drive, which is itself a good provider of protection. So the Booster Dose may be reasonable, but it is not based on scientific evidence.
Shahid Jameel, senior Virologist and former head of the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortium has also advocated the use of either Covovax or Corbevax as the Booster dose. He had added in a conversation with Economic Times that it would make sense to push for a mixing vaccines policy.