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A mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines could provide logistical and immunological benefits

One of this and one of that might be a good strategy to coronavirus vaccination. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines could provide logistical and immunological benefits

One of this and one of that might be a good strategy to coronavirus vaccination. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines could provide logistical and immunological benefits

One of this and one of that might be a good strategy to coronavirus vaccination. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines could provide logistical and immunological benefits

One of this and one of that might be a good strategy to coronavirus vaccination. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Researchers hope that a mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines will help alleviate these issues and create more flexibility in the immunization regimens available to people.

One of this and one of that might be a good strategy to coronavirus vaccination. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Maureen Ferran, Rochester Institute of Technology

While it’s now pretty easy to get a COVID-19 shot in most places in the U.S., the vaccine rollout in other parts of the world has been slow or inconsistent due to shortages, uneven access and concerns about safety.

Researchers hope that a mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines will help alleviate these issues and create more flexibility in the immunization regimens available to people.

Around the world, different pharmaceutical companies have taken different approaches to developing vaccines. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna created mRNA vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson went with what are called viral vectors. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is protein-based.

So mixing vaccines could mean more than just switching manufacturers – like from Pfizer for dose one to Moderna for dose two. You might be tapping into a different way to stimulate your immune response if you opt for a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of Moderna.

The most obvious benefits of treating various brands and kinds of COVID-19 vaccine as interchangeable are logistical – people can get whatever shot is available without worry. By speeding up the global vaccination rollout, mixing and matching vaccines could help end this pandemic. Researchers also hope combining different vaccines will trigger a more robust, longer-lasting immune response compared to receiving both doses of a single vaccine. This approach may better protect people from emerging variants.

artist's rendition of a coronavirus particle and antibodies

After vaccination, your body makes antibodies (blue in this illustration) that will hunt for coronavirus proteins (pink). Christoph Burgstedt/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

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