"No Need To Mix 2 Different Vaccines": Serum Institute's Cyrus Poonawalla

When asked about a recent study that a cocktail of Covishield and Covaxin could generate better immunity, Serum Institute of India chairman Dr Cyrus Poonawalla said he is against the mixing of two different vaccines.

'No Need To Mix 2 Different Vaccines': Serum Institute's Cyrus Poonawalla

Serum Institute of India makes the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine. (Representational)

Pune:

Serum Institute of India chairman Cyrus Poonawalla on Friday said that taking a third or `booster dose'' of Covishield, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by his firm, was desirable.

He also said he was not in favour of mixing two difference vaccines, and criticized the Union government for banning exports of vaccines.
Poonawalla was speaking to reporters after receiving the Lokmanya Tilak award here.

"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.

The ideal gap between two doses of Covishield is two months though the Union government increased it to three months because of dose shortage, he said.

"I am against the mixing of two different vaccines. There is no need to mix two different vaccines," Mr Poonawalla said, when asked about a recent ICMR study that a cocktail of Covishield and Covaxin was found to have generated better immunity within a small group.

If such combination of doses did not work, each vaccine manufacturer will blame the other company, he said.

Later, in a statement to clarify his remarks, Mr Poonawalla said such mixing can be resorted to if a particular vaccine is not available at the time of second dose.

He also dismissed reports about "threats" to the Poonawalla family. His son Adar had left the country for a usual summer vacation, he claimed.

Asked for his view on the government's assurance to complete the vaccination in the entire country by the end of this year and the claim that 45 crore doses will be available by September, he said, "What do you think ? Politicians sometimes boast...

"Our production of COVID-19 vaccine is 10 crore per month and producing that much quantity is not easy," Mr Poonawalla added.

No company in the world can provide 10 to 12 crore doses in a month, he said.

"However, with the advance preparations by SII and investments of thousands of crores, we can produce 110 to 120 crore doses per year. As other companies are also producing the vaccines, the immunization will increase," he said.

Mr Poonawalla termed the Union government's decision to ban the export of vaccines 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," he said.

Over 150 countries are dependent on the SII for vaccines and are blaming the company for stopping the supply during a crucial period, he said.

In his speech at the award ceremony earlier, he praised the Narendra Modi government for cutting red-tapism, and recalled how the industry used to face "hardships" in securing permissions and "harassment from bureaucrats" 50 years ago.

Speedy permissions granted by the government authorities made the development of the coronavirus vaccine within a very short time possible, he noted.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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