Opinion

UP Serves First of Its Kind “Cocktail of Vaccines” to 20 People

There are no instructions from the government to administer a cocktail of vaccines, said the CMO.

At least 20 people were administered Covaxin doses more than a month after they received the first dose of the Covishield vaccine in Siddharth Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh. The mix-up happened in Barhni block, officials said, adding that 18 of the 20 recipients are from Audahi Kala village. The other two are from a neighbouring village.

“An inquiry was ordered and a report has been submitted. I have sought clarification from those who have erred. We will act accordingly,” Siddharthnagar CMO Sandeep Chaudhary told reporters. “We had sent a team from the district to check on the 20 people. They were found to be in good health and haven’t faced any issues as yet. We will keep a watch on them,” the CMO added.

Complaints on Cocktail of Vaccines

Siddharthnagar District Magistrate Deepak Meena said the matter came to light after complaints were received from some of the recipients that they were administered the wrong vaccine as the second dose on May 14. “Some locals complained that they had got two different vaccines in two doses. The Chief Medical Officer immediately ordered a probe by an assistant CMO,” the DM said.

He added that a nurse from the Primary Health Centre was suspended over the incident, and action has been initiated against a doctor, who was in charge of the facility. According to the report, the villagers were none the wiser at the time they were given the shot.

Reuters has reported that more and more countries around the world are considering using different vaccines for the two doses, amid supply delays. However, they are expected to proceed by conducting clinical trials and letting national drug regulators weigh in – not by deploying the strategy right away on the ground.

Sandeep Chaudhary, told NDTV, “There are no instructions from the government to administer a cocktail of vaccines.”

NDTV also reported that while Chaudhary said that health officials had spoken to all 20 recipients to conclude that the mixed vaccine doses have had no bad effects, one of the recipients reportedly said no one had spoken to him.

Uttar Pradesh’s vaccination drive has been among the slowest in India. As on May 26 (7 am), the number of people in the state of 23 crore who had received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine was at 33,79,393.

Pros and Cons on Cocktail of Vaccines

The Wire Science recently reported that a study had found that using Pfizer for the first shot and Covishield for the second produced a “potent immune response” against the novel coronavirus. The Spanish study, based on a 600-person trial, highlighted the benefit of combining two separately manufactured vaccines.

More such studies are underway, Reuters has reported. Clinical trials combining doses of AstraZeneca’s shot and Sputnik V – using a technique known as heterologous boosting – were reported to have begun in early February.

(Note: Both the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V shots are adenovirus-vector vaccines. Pfizer’s is an mRNA vaccine and Covaxin uses the inactivated-virus technology.) Cocktail of Vaccines in UP

However, the Spanish trial was conducted under supervision – as all trials are – and with meaningful knowledge of each vaccine’s mechanism of action. Mixing doses is not recommended anywhere on the planet, and certainly not outside trials. As The Wire Science also noted, for example, a study in the UK released safety data from a mix-and-match study that showed recipients reported higher rates of side-effects.

The Wire Science also noted that India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), which makes its recommendations to the Union health ministry, has also mulled benefits of mixing vaccines.

But amid a record-breaking rise in cases and deaths in the recent past, the country is suffering from a crippling shortage of vaccines, with no way to significantly boost supply in the nearest future. Many receivers of a first vaccine dose have thus been unable to get the second in various parts of the country.

The Digpu News Bottomline on Cocktail of Vaccines

While the central government has fixed 12 weeks as the gap required between two doses of the vaccine, it appears that these villagers were given the second dose only 4 week later. On top of this, the unprecedented mixture of the vaccine that was administered casts a serious doubt on vaccine management in the state.

Notably Uttar Pradesh was alleged to be grossly underreporting deaths in the state and while the government kept denying it, Ganga banks and waters were seen carrying hundreds of dead bodies.

In case of Uttar Pradesh’s governance there is not much to ask but just a simple question:

Where is the government and its governance?

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Digpu News Desk

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