Gap between 2 doses of Covishield extended to 12-16 weeks
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The Union Health Ministry on May 13 agreed to extend the gap between the two doses of Covishield covid-19 vaccine to 12-16 weeks. The announcement came after the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), an advisory group on the Covid-19 vaccines had recommended in this regard.

The recommendation of the COVID Working Group was accepted by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), headed by Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog in its meeting on May 12. “Based on the available real-life evidences, particularly from UK, the COVID-19 Working Group agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of COVISHIELD vaccine. No change in interval of COVAXIN vaccine doses was recommended," the statement said.

The government expert panel had also recommended those testing positive for coronavirus to defer vaccination for six months after recovery. However, no change has been suggested for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, whose gap between the two doses stands at four to six weeks. The development comes in the backdrop of India facing an acute shortage of vaccine supply amid the catastrophic second wave.

The recommended interval between the two doses of Covishield, manufactured by Pune’s Serum Institute of India, was increased from four-six weeks to six-eight weeks in April. Experts believe such a move could ease pressure on the vaccine’s supply chain at a time when India has decided to include all adults in its massive inoculation programme against the coronavirus disease.

If the interval is increased in India, it will help the country on two fronts. First, it could ease the skyrocketing demand for vaccines. Second, if the rush for the second dose slows down, officials could focus on vaccinating more beneficiaries with the first dose, which gives some degree of protection before the second dose is administered.

The primary analysis of the Phase III clinical trials from the UK, Brazil and South Africa confirmed the vaccine is safe and effective, “with no severe cases and no hospitalisations, more than 22 days after the first dose”, AstraZeneca said on its website on February 3.

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