How promising is mix and match approach for COVID booster shot  


  • Mix and match vaccines have been given nod by the FDA, allowing people to get the booster shot of a different vaccine brand than the one they initially received. 
  • Recent studies that highlighted the potential of vaccines’ waning efficacy over a year suggest vaccine booster dosage. 
  • The cocktail approach for vaccination would give flexibility to the government to expedite their vaccination programs. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised to “mix and match” vaccines, which allows people to get the booster shot of a different COVID-19 vaccine than the one from their original doses. 

An expert panel advising the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on vaccine policy said that Americans could choose the booster shot of their choice. The panel also unanimously backed the booster shots for people vaccinated with the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. 

Vaccination, Booster Dosage

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While the first inoculation dosage has been demonstrated to prevent severe illness and death, recent studies indicate the potential of vaccines’ waning efficacy over a year. With extremely contagious Delta variant causing infections among fully vaccinated people, boosters might be the answer to keeping immunity high. 

The CDC indicated that it would issue ‘clinical guidance’ advice on the cocktail vaccination approach to health care providers who deliver vaccines and to people getting boosters. 

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Does this guarantee a superior immune response?

It is not uncommon for people to receive different versions of seasonal flu vaccine from one year to another. However, the approach had not been adopted so far with respect to COVID-19 inoculation. 

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The blood clot condition found in rare cases among people who received AstraZeneca’s vaccine caused a stir in many European countries. Simultaneously, it also sparked curiosity for the usage of the mix and match vaccine approach. 

A Spanish study conducted by CombiVacS highlighted that giving Pfizer dosage to people who received the first shot of AstraZeneca’s vaccine is safe and effective, highlighting the production of more antibodies than produced by a single AstraZeneca shot.

Moreover, the United Kingdom’s Com-COV study also highlighted similar results. As per the UK study, heterogeneous vaccination using the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines generated a more robust immune response compared to two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The studies from different parts of the world suggest combinations that might work best to provide a solid immune response against COVID-19, including the delta variant. However, it’s still unclear what will yield the best results.

Vaccine program, High Flexibility, Greater Effectiveness

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What types of vaccines will be mixed?

The varying COVID-19 vaccines use a different approach to trigger the immune system against COVID-19 infections. The mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna, and Pfizer and BioNTech use genetically engineered messenger RNA to instruct cells to make viral protein (S protein) found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2. 

On the other hand, viral vector vaccines such as those developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and by Johnson & Johnson contain different types of viral vector to deliver the COVID-19 genetic materials, instructing cells to make copies of the S protein.

Given the two different mechanisms, the question that largely persisted as if pairing two vaccines using different basic strategies could prove effective compared to homogenous shots.

Many experts believe that the mix and match approach can prove significant as they synergise the defence. 

The Mix and Match approach to offer greater flexibility

The vaccine’s homogeneity constraints have impacted the global vaccination rollout. The cocktail approach for vaccination would give elbow room to the government to expedite their vaccination programs. 

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Moreover, many who received their first dosage in any other country will not be constrained to match the booster dosage to their initial one. The recent approach provides more leeway to people willing to change their vaccine brands.

While the potential benefits seem promising for the mix and match approach, offering to provide higher flexibility of vaccination programs and highlighting prospects for higher effectiveness, it yet remains to be unveiled how effective and safe it would be when rolled out for the masses. 





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