As COVID continues to surge in many parts of the world and our vaccines run low, many countries have turned to seriously consider the possibility of mixing Covid vaccines.
Moreover, the third wave of COVID and the threat of new variants breaching the vaccine’s protection has led to the possible need for a third booster dose being looked at.
Let’s look at what studies have found and the countries that have opened up for mixing Covid vaccines.
Several clinical trials are currently underway worldwide to test the safety and effectiveness of mixing Covid vaccines.
Though these studies are still in the early stages, preliminary data points to it being safe. Preliminary data from a recent study led by researchers at the University of Oxford found that mixing the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines is safe, although it could cause more severe, albeit temporary, side effects.
Experts in India have expressed their reservations about allowing the mix and match of COVID vaccines in the face of shortage because there isn’t sufficient clinical data.
On the other hand, some countries have already allowed the mix and match of vaccines based on preliminary study results.
On Tuesday, 1 June, the US became the latest country to announce the beginning of clinical trials to test the use of different COVID vaccines in fully vaccinated adults as a booster shot.
The trial results are expected in late summer 2021.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, dozens in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, who had been fully inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine, are being revaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech’s jabs as a booster shot.
In January, the British government updated its COVID vaccination guidelines stating that people may mix and match their two shots if they are unaware of the vaccine they received or the vaccine they received as their first dose is not available.
The UK, in February, had announced the launch of clinical trials to explore if mixing shots of the COVID vaccines by Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca will provide equal or better protection than giving the same vaccine twice.
They have also allowed for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be used interchangeably.
India does not recommend the mix and match of COVID vaccines, citing a lack of clinical data.
However, when cases of vaccine mix-ups in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat raised concerns of safety, all the experts FIT spoke to said there are no likely major concerns about the actual safety and side effects of doing so. However, they were clear that without clinical data and study, no policy can be formed.
No official announcement of trials to test the safety and efficacy of mixing covid vaccines has been made yet.