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The Centre on Wednesday said that Biological E's Covid-19 vaccine Corbevax can be administered as a booster dose in people who have taken Covaxin and AstraZeneca's Covishield doses of vaccine. According to the Union Health Minister, Corbevax will be available to over 18s as a precautionary booster, six months after a second dose.

This is for the first time that a booster dose that is different from the one used for primary vaccination against Covid has been allowed in the country.

All necessary changes in the administration of heterologous precaution dose using Corbevax to those eligible and due for precaution dose have been made on the Co-WIN portal. This provision would be live from August 12, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

Bhushan said that Corbevax will be available as a precaution dose after completion of 6 months or 26 weeks from the date of administration of the second dose of either Covaxin or Covishield vaccines for populations above 18 years.

People can choose the existing homologous precaution dose or they can also opt for a heterologous precaution dose.

As per the health secretary, the decision has been taken based on scientific evidence, global practices, and the recommendations of domain knowledge experts.

Covishield is produced for the Indian market by the Serum Institute of India under licence from AstraZeneca, while Bharat Biotech makes Covaxin.

Until now, children in the age group of 12 to 14 years were being administered with India's first indigenously developed RBD protein subunit vaccine Corbevax.

India has so far administered more than 2 billion Covid vaccine shots, including 113 million boosters, all of which have so far been of the same vaccine as the recipient's first two doses. The government says about 89% of Indians above the age of 12 have had two doses.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on June 4 approved Corbevax as a precaution dose for those aged 18 and above.

India began administering precaution doses of vaccines to healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10.

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people has documented more than 44 million coronavirus infections and 526,826 related deaths. 

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