In a case of medical negligence, at least 20 villagers in the state of Uttar Pradesh were administered two different doses of COVID-19 vaccines causing panic among people. The villagers from the Siddharthnagar district near the Nepal border were administered the Covishield jab in April and Covaxin in May.
According to one villager, the authorities did not check anything and the primary healthcare workers were standing elsewhere. The local health officer has since launched a probe into the matter and sought clarifications from officials on the ground. "It is a lapse because there is no guideline by the government of India that a mix up of vaccines be administered", the health officer told reporters.
Meanwhile, the district administration has suspended a nurse from the Primary Health Centre over the incident, and action has been initiated against a doctor in charge of the facility.
Opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said the case was an abominable example of negligence by Narendra Modi's BJP government.
Despite being the largest "vaccine manufacturer" in the world, India is facing a monumental vaccine crisis. For a population of 1.3 billion people, the country has only administered 200 million doses so far.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the slowest states to vaccinate its citizens, with only 17 million jabs administered.
India has currently approved three vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin are manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech respectively. Aside from these vaccines, the country recently received 210,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V, which will be made available in June.
The Indian government has pledged to produce at least two billion doses between August and December of this year.
A panel of experts from The Lancet (a revered medical journal) proposed a central system for the procurement and distribution of free COVID-19 vaccines to "curtail the loss of life and suffering" caused by the coronavirus resurgence in the country.
Amid the shortage of availability, several countries are considering using two different doses and testing their efficacy. A study from Spain earlier found that using Pfizer for the first shot and Covishield for the second produced a "potent immune response" against the virus.
However, experts suggest mixing two doses of COVID-19 vaccines increases patients' side effects such as fatigue and headaches.
India on Thursday recorded 211,298 new COVID-19 cases, 283,135 discharges and 3,847 deaths.