'Dynamic process': Centre on whether gap between Covishield doses will be revised again
Amid calls to reduce the gap between the two doses of Covishield, based on the new findings by Public Health England, the Union health ministry on Friday said there is no need to panic as such decisions will be taken after careful examination by the experts. On suggestions — offered by Indian experts — that Covid-recovered people do not require vaccine and therefore can be left out of the vaccination drive, the ministry clarified that such debates should be there in the public domain. But any decision to change the present vaccination guideline will have to consider the bigger picture, "This is a dynamic process. There is no hardcore ideology in science. Our experts will go through the latest developments and take a call," VK Paul, Niti Aayog member (health) said on Friday.
In India, the gap between the two doses of Covishield was widened to 12 to 16 weeks. The gap was widened based on international studies which claimed that the protection offered by the first dose of the Covishield vaccine lasts long. Hence, the second dose can be delayed.
But a more recent study by Public Health England claimed that the protection offered by the first dose of the vaccine could be lower than what was thought before. Following this, authorities have already started reducing the gap between vaccine doses. For example, Northern Ireland has reduced the gap from 10 to 12 weeks to eight weeks for all vaccines available there.
The new study says the first dose of Astrazeneca (Covishield) provides 33 per cent efficacy in preventing Covid-19 infection by the Delta variant, the one first reported in India. The second dose improves the protection against the Delta variant to 60 per cent.