Not in favour of mixing 2 vaccines; booster dose of Covishield desirable: SII’s chairman Cyrus Poonawalla

A third or ‘booster dose’ of Covishield was desirable, said Serum Institute of India chairman Cyrus Poonawalla on Friday.

Poonawalla further said that he was not in favour of mixing doses of two difference vaccines.

“I am against the mixing of two different vaccines. There is no need to mix two different vaccines. If such combination of doses did not work, each vaccine manufacturer will blame the other company,” Poonawalla said, when asked about a recent ICMR study that mixing Covishield and Covaxin doses elicited better within than two doses of the same vaccine.

However, he later clarified that the mixing approach can be considered if a particular vaccine is not available at the time of second dose.

Speaking to reporters after receiving the Lokmanya Tilak award here, he criticised the Central government for banning the export of vaccines and termed the decision as a “very bad move”.

“My son asked me not to open my mouth (on the issue). But it is my view that exports ought to be opened. We have supplied vaccine to over 170 countries and now when they require the vaccine now we can’t provide them. We have taken advance of Rs 5000 crore  from Bill Gates foundation but we can’t provide them vaccine now,” he said.

He said that countires that are dependent on the SII for vaccines are blaming the company for stopping the supply during a crucial period.

Responding to a question about a Lancet report that claimed antibodies against coronavirus created by Covishield, the vaccine manufactured by the SII, decrease after some time, Poonawalla said that it was true that the antibodies decrease, but “memory cells” remain.

“After six months, the antibodies go down and that is why I have taken the third dose. We have given the third dose to our seven to eight thousand SII employees. For those who have completed the second dose, it is my request to take a booster dose (third dose) after six months,” he said.


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