Didn't back increased interval between Covid-19 vaccine doses, says NTAGI scientists

  • Announcing the decision to increase the gap between the two Covid-19 vaccine doses from six to eight weeks to 12-16 weeks, the government said it was recommended by NTAGI, based on real-life evidence mainly from the United Kingdom.
The government's decision to increase the interval between the doses came at a time when the country was facing a huge paucity of Covid-19 vaccine doses.
The government's decision to increase the interval between the doses came at a time when the country was facing a huge paucity of Covid-19 vaccine doses.
Published on Jun 15, 2021 10:47 PM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The government on May 13 decided to increase the gap between the two doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, inoculated as Covishield in India. However, three of the 14 " core members" of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the Centre's advisory body, said the gap was doubled without the agreement of the scientific group, that the government said recommended the increased gap, according to a Reuters report.

Announcing the decision to increase the gap between the two doses from six to eight weeks to 12-16 weeks, the government said it was recommended by NTAGI, based on real-life evidence mainly from the United Kingdom. But the NTAGI members refuted the claim and said the body did not have enough data to make the recommendation, reported Reuters.

Also read| India missed early alarm, let deadly coronavirus variant spread: Health experts

The former director of the National Institute of Epidemiology said, reported Reuters, the advisory body had backed increasing the interval to 8-12 weeks, which was the gap advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). But the body did not have the data to extend the interval beyond 12 weeks, Gupte added, reported Reuters.

"Eight to 12 weeks is something we all accepted, 12 to 16 weeks is something the government has come out with," Reuters quoted him as saying. "This may be alright, may not be. We have no information on that," he added.

The government's decision to increase the interval between the doses came at a time when the country was facing a huge paucity of Covid-19 vaccine doses in comparison to demand and surging infections.

It had later denied that the interval increase was not to address vaccine shortage but was a "scientific decision."

Gupte's colleague Mathew Varghese also said that the recommendation was only for 8-12 weeks. J.P. Muliyil, a member of the seven-strong Covid working group said NTAGI had discussed increasing the dose gap but it did not recommend 12-16 weeks, reported Reuters.

Also read | 6 million Covid vaccine doses given in Capital: Delhi govt

Muliyil further said that the recent data released by South Korea that said one dose of the vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer was 86.6% effective in preventing Covid infection among people aged 60 years and above, increased confidence within the body that delaying the second dose would not be harmful, reported Reuters.

The AstraZeneca or Covishield vaccine accounts for almost 90% of the 257.5 million vaccine doses administered in the country.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021