- Covishield will have two doses and there is no change, Dr VK Paul said
- There is no question of mixing jabs till scientifically proven, he said
- The clarifications come after opposition on public forums
Covishield will not be changed to a single-shot schedule and "there is no question" of mixing vaccines till scientifically proven, the government said on Tuesday, after key pointers of its plans floated unofficially to the media ran into resistance from sections of the medical community.
"Covishield will have two doses and there is no change and this schedule will remain... About mixing of vaccines, until scientifically proven, there is no question of mixing and won't be followed," Dr VK Paul, the government's top coronavirus adviser, said at a news briefing.
The clarifications came after government sources, requesting not to be named, told reporters that tests on mixing vaccines and the effectiveness of a single dose of Covishield will begin soon in the government's new strategy at a time the shortage of COVID-19 shots has slowed down vaccinations.
They said a study on mixing two different vaccines will start in a month and will likely be completed in two to two and a half months.
The low-key announcements divided opinion on public forums where many suggested the measures were aimed more at mitigating the vaccine shortage widely blamed on the centre's move to not order enough doses in due time last year.
VK Paul, NITI Aayog member and the head of India's Covid task force, had said in-depth research was needed to check whether mixing vaccines is effective.
This is a key aspect of the new vaccination strategy devised in line with the target of one crore inoculations daily by mid-July, according to government sources.
Single-dose vaccination will help the government cover a much wider base of the population, they had said.
Covishield, developed by pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University and made by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin are the two main shots used in the nationwide vaccination drive that started in January. Russia's Sputnik is the third vaccine to be cleared for use.
The government has announced that it expects to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of the year and announced plans to procure over 200 crore doses by the end of the year.