The Union government has accepted the recommendation for extension of the gap between the first and second doses of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks. The present one is 6-8 weeks.
However, no change has been suggested for the dosage interval of Covaxin.
Earlier, the Covishied doses were given with a gap of 4-6 weeks and that was based on the data available then with the regulators. With more data becoming available, it was observed in the secondary analysis that if the duration was extended, it is more efficacious.
The UK and the WHO also said there should be a lag of 12 weeks. “Our decision was based on scientific evidence,” VK Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, and head of NEGVAC, told the media. This decision was part of the periodic review and this will reduce the risk of infection, he added.
“Based on the available real-life evidence, particularly from the UK, the Covid-19 Working Group agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of the Covishield vaccine. No change in interval of Covaxin vaccine doses was recommended,” a Health Ministry statement said.
According to agencies, the other recommendations of the panel include,Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are waiting to take the vaccine should defer vaccination for six months after recovery, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) recommended.
India has vaccinated a third of all those 45 and above. This age set had accounted for 88 per cent of all deaths, but with the inoculation drive, this group is protected, Paul said.
Of those scheduled for the second dose, 50 per cent have got their jabs and in States like Kerala, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Tripura this number is at 70 per cent
On vaccine availability, he said that in the next five months around 2 billion doses will be available.“Any vaccine that is approved by WHO can come to India. Import licences will be given in 1-2 days. No import licence is pending from the government’s side. Maximum numbers must receive as many vaccine doses as they can,” Paul added.
“We are constantly in touch with Pfizer, J&J and Moderna and they have assured us about the manufacturing of vaccines in the third quarter of 2021. We are inviting them to not only export their vaccine to India but also manufacture here,” Paul said.