Ruling out any protocol changes, the government on Tuesday said same vaccines should be administered for both doses. The clarification came after several reports indicated that the government might go for changes in its vaccination strategy.
"Mixing of vaccine is not the protocol yet, same vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) to be administered for both doses. Stick to the SOP," an official of the health ministry said during a press conference today.
He said international research was still underway on the mixing of vaccines as the possibility of a positive effect is also plausible but a harmful reaction cannot be ruled out either. It is an unresolved scientific question, science will settle it, he added.
Further, the official also said that there was no change in the schedule of Covishield doses. "It will be two doses only. After the first Covishield dose is administered, second dose will be given after 12 weeks. The same schedule is applicable to Covaxin," he said.
Meanwhile, the government also refuted reports of a vaccine shortage in the country. Dr. Balram Bhargava, the head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said India will have enough doses to vaccinate 1 crore people per day by mid-July or August. "We are confident of vaccinating the whole population by December," he said.
According to the ministry, a total of 21.60 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the country with 1.67 crore doses to health workers, 2.42 crore to front line workers, 15.48 crore to people in 45+ age group while for those in 18-44 age group, 2.03 doses.
Focus on children
The government's focus is on childhood Covid disease. "The pediatric population is generally asymptomatic. They often get infections but their symptoms are minimal or nill. The infection has not taken serious shape in children," NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul said.
"...But the virus may change its behaviour in the pediatric population. The impact of COVID-19 may increase in children. The data has shown that a low number of children are being admitted to hospitals. We're pushing preparedness," he said.