- AstraZeneca-Oxford University developed the Covishield vaccine.
- This is the second time in months that the Covishield dose gap has widened.
- No modifications proposed for Covaxin, which is still four to six weeks.
According to a report by news agency PTI, a government panel recommended that the time between two doses of the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine be extended to 12-16 weeks. There were no changes proposed for Covaxin, which is still four to six weeks.
Pregnant women can select their vaccine, and lactating women would be eligible after delivery, according to the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization. Neither of them is currently qualified for the shots.
These recommendations will be sent to NEGVA (National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration) for approval before being implemented.
Dr. CN Ashwathnarayan, the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, one of several states that have recorded low vaccine stocks, later tweeted: “Extending the gap assists the government in effectively carrying out the inoculation programme.”
“This is a common practise in many countries. The gap in Canada is three or four months. In the meantime, we’re working hard to increase supply and investigate local manufacturing options, “he said.
Covishield dose intervals have been widened for the second time in three months; in March, states and UTs were advised to raise the difference from 28 days to six-eight weeks “for better results.”
The centre also added at that time, “Protection was strengthened if the second dose of Covishield was given between six and eight weeks but not later than that.”
Experts believe the decision was influenced more by the vaccine shortage than by any scientific justification.
In India, the recommended gap between two doses of Covishield is currently 4-8 weeks, despite the fact that the WHO recommended a 12-week gap between the two doses of the vaccine in February, citing evidence that the vaccine’s efficacy is highest after this interval.
The government recently recommended a gap of 4-6 weeks between two doses of Covaxin, despite the fact that the vaccine has only been tested with a 28-day gap in clinical trials.
Meanwhile, NEGVAC’s endorsement of a 6-week gap for Covid vaccination following infection recovery has been met with skepticism. This comes just days after ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said that those who have successfully fought Covid will get vaccine six months after their recovery.
“So far, I haven’t seen any empirical evidence that indicates people who have had the infection before should wait six months for their Covid shots,” said immunologist Seyed Hasnain.
Others, on the other hand, clarified that this suggestion may be based on research results showing that antibodies against SARS CoV2 usually remain in the body for at least 6-8 weeks after infection. “The focus now appears to be on making the coronavirus vaccine as widely accessible as possible, and as a result, all available approaches — scientific and otherwise — are being examined,” the task force member explained.