No mixing, Covid precaution dose to be same jab, says govt

The “precautionary” vaccine dose to be given to healthcare and frontline workers, and individuals 60 years and above with comorbidities, will be the same as that of the first two doses, the government clarified on Wednesday.

Addressing the media, NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod K Paul said, “Those who have received Covaxin will receive Covaxin. Those who have received the primary two doses of Covishield will receive Covishield. That’s the way we are proceeding.”

Paul said they will see details as “data and science” emerge about mixing of vaccines and the heterologous approach.

Inoculation of precautionary dose for healthcare and frontline workers and senior citizens with comorbidities will begin on January 10. This dose will be reflected in vaccination certificates.

Paul said, “We are now facing an exponential rise in Covid cases. We believe it’s largely driven by Omicron…that’s a reality.”

Addressing the media, Balram Bhargav, director general, Indian Council of Medical Research, said Omicron is the “predominant circulating strain” in Indian cities, and “mass gatherings have to be avoided to lower speed of this spread”.

On vaccination of children between 15 and 17 years that began January 3, Paul said more than 1 crore teens in this age group have received their first dose so far. “We estimate there are 7.4 crore adolescents between age 15 and 18, and if you look at the coverage already, it’s close to one out of six (of these children), and the day is not yet over… It’s a remarkable participation of this very important segment of our population. We hope this will gather pace and vaccine availability not being an issue, and we will be able to vaccine this group rather quickly.”

Earlier, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Health and Family Welfare, pointed toward the surge in cases being noted globally and said there has been a widespread surge in Covid-19 cases across all continents. India has reported more than 6.3-times increase in cases over the last eight days, and an increase in case positivity from 0.79 % on December 29 last year to 5.03% as on Wednesday, he said.

But, he said, hospitalisation has been relatively lower so far this time.

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