Serum Institute chief Cyrus Poonawalla red flags vaccine-mixing move; terms it a wrong idea

Cyrus Poonawalla warns vaccine-mixing could trigger blame game between makers in case of misfire 

Close on the heels of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation’s expert committee okaying a proposal to permit a study on mixing Covishield and Covaxin vaccines and testing the mix on healthy humans, Serum Institute of India Chairman Cyrus Poonawalla has opposed the move. 

The Serum Institute of India chief said it would be very wrong to mix the vaccines. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation had recently said yes to a study lined up by the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, to mix the two Covid-19 vaccines and test the concoction on 300 healthy volunteers.

Cyrus Poonawalla warns of blame game

However, Poonawala has vehemently opposed the idea, pointing out that there isn’t any need to mix the doses. He went on to add that if something goes wrong, there is a chance of a blame game between the makers of the two vaccines, the report added.

Poonawala was quoted by the Economic Times as saying that if the move misfires, “Serum will say that the other vaccine is not good and they (the other vaccine company) will blame us claiming there was an issue with our vaccine.” He added that such a mixing “is not at all proven in field trials”. The Serum Institute boss said this while speaking at the Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth in Pune. 

The idea of mixing Covaxin and Covishield came about after ICMR found that 18 people in Uttar Pradesh who were inadvertently administered a mix of doses showed better immunogenicity than two doses of the same vaccine

Cyrus Poonawalla terms idea wrong

ICMR had revealed that a combination of Covishield and Covaxin was safe, adding that the adverse effects also were similar to what would happen when the same dose vaccine was injected. However, Cyrus Poonawalla did not hesitate to call the study being undertaken on this basis “wrong”. 

The latest study proposal aims to gauge whether volunteers can be injected with two different doses of Covaxin and Covishield and how they would fare in terms of developing immunity.

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