New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the reports of government and pharma companies preparing booster doses to target new COVID-19 variants, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that the combination of vaccines seems to be working well against the variants of the virus. The mixing of these vaccines could also help countries facing a shortage of the jab to inoculate their population at the earliest with different vaccines that are available.

"It seems to be working well, this concept of heterologous prime-boost. This opens up the opportunity for countries that have vaccinated people with one vaccine and now are waiting for the second dose they have run out of, to potentially be able to use a different platform vaccine," Swaminathan told Bloomberg.

However, Swaminathan also suggested that mixing two COVID vaccines, according to early data from the UK, Spain, and Germany, may generate more pain, fever, and other minor side effects compared with the side effects of doses of the same inoculation.

Nevertheless, Swaminathan also added that the heterologous prime-boost combinations generate a more robust immune response which leads to higher levels of virus blocking antibodies and the white blood cells that kill the virus-infected cells.

Meanwhile, the Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister of Malaysia Khairy Jamaluddin mentioned earlier this week that the country is also mulling using a combination of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech shots to speed up its inoculation drive.

Is there a need for a booster shot?

Health officials say it is too early to tell if booster shots are required to fight against COVID-19. "We do not have the information that’s necessary to make the recommendation on whether or not a booster will be needed," Swaminathan said. She also called it (booster shots) premature as many countries still have not been fully inoculated against Covid-19.

UK preparing booster shots against COVID

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said Covid booster shots are likely to be rolled out in the country during winters. The country has also begun the world’s first booster study in England. A large population of the UK has already been inoculated. However, the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions is postponed amid the scare of the delta variant.

The existing US-approved vaccines are said to be effective against beta, delta, and two other strains that WHO announced as variants of concern.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha