SII’s Chairman Cyrus Poonawalla Cautions Against Mixing Shots, Suggests Booster Doses

New Delhi: The Serum Institute of India chairman Cyrus Poonawalla said he was not in favour of mixing two difference vaccines and also criticised the government for banning exports of vaccines. While talking to media after receiving the Lokmanya Tilak award, Poonawalla went on to warn against mixing of doses and insisted that booster shots may be needed for those vaccinated over six months ago, according to PTI report.

He also clearly mentioned that expectation of all Indians to be vaccinated by the end of 2021 was unlikely to be achieved. In another development, the Serum Institute of India is unlikely to be able to secure a license for its version of the highly efficacious coronavirus vaccine developed by US-based company Novavax.

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Cyrus Poonawalla SPEAKs:

What booster dose is suggested?

According to Poonawala, after six months, the antibodies go down and that is third dose is recommended. “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.

On increasing the gap between two doses of Covishield, he said that two months is ideal, but the Union government raised it to three months because of dose shortage.

Why mixing doses is not ideal?

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

If such combination of doses did not work, each vaccine manufacturer will blame the other company, he said. However, he clarified later saying said such mixing can be resorted to if a particular vaccine is not available at the time of second dose.

What about achieving vaccination targets?

Poonawalla also refuted reports about “threats” to the family. His son Adar had left the country for a usual summer vacation, he claimed.

On the vaccination target, and the claim that 45 crore doses will be available by September, Poonawala said, “Our production of Covid-19 vaccine is 10 crore per month and producing that much quantity is not easy,” Poonawalla added.

He specified that no company in the world can provide 10 to 12 crore doses in a month. “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.

He criticised the government’s decision to ban the export of vaccines saying it’s a “very bad move”. 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.

While he also hailed the efforts of the Narendra Modi government for checking on 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.

(With inputs from PTI)

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