No plan to reduce Covishield dose gap: NK Arora

There is a mandatory 12-week wait for second shots of Covishield, which the government put in place citing scientific studies that showed higher efficacy with a longer interval.
A medic prepares to administer a dose of Covid-19 vaccine to a beneficiary in Srinagar on Wednesday. (PTI)
A medic prepares to administer a dose of Covid-19 vaccine to a beneficiary in Srinagar on Wednesday. (PTI)
Published on Sep 22, 2021 11:56 PM IST
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By Rhythma Kaul, New Delhi

India is not considering any decision to lower the gap between two doses of Covishield, a top government expert said on Wednesday, hours after news agency Reuters said people getting jabs at private centres may allowed to take their second shots sooner in line with a court order.

There is a mandatory 12-week wait for second shots of Covishield, which the government put in place citing scientific studies that showed higher efficacy with a longer interval. However, more scientific evidence that followed showed that two doses were more necessary to adequately protect against the Delta variant, which dominated India during the April-May wave.

“These reports about the centre likely to reduce gap for Covishield administration in the private vaccination centres are not correct. There cannot be different rules for different categories of people; that would be discriminatory and science does not work like that. In case of modifications for students needing to travel for studies and other people taking international travel, there was a compelling reason to modify the guidelines,” said Dr NK Arora, chairman, Covid-19 working group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).

“Scientifically we are very firm on our decision at the moment. But of course, it is a dynamic situation, and if in future there is data to support benefits of reducing the gap, then our experts will look at it. The decision will be driven purely by science,” he added.

Reuters quoted an unnamed source as saying that the gap would be cut for those taking doses in private hospitals and clinics, for which they need to pay. “Since the high court has given a judgement, it will have to be done,” said one of the sources. “For the government’s programme, the ideal gap remains 12 weeks.”

In May, the expert committee recommended increase in the gap to 12-16 weeks, from the earlier 6-8 weeks, for administering Covishield. Earlier, the gap was 4-6 weeks.

The dose interval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the other dose widely available in India, continues to remain between four to six weeks.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021