3-Month Gap Provides Strong Protection: Oxford Vaccine Group Chief
India on 13 May increased the interval between the two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks.
Days after the Centre extended the interval between two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks, scientist Andrew Pollard, Head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, has said that data shows that this duration produces “very good protection” against COVID-19.
Speaking to The Times of India, Pollard said, "We have very good data showing strong protection for the first three months between the two doses. A three-month interval produces very good protection - this gets even better with a longer interval from three to four months. A longer time gap gets a stronger immune response after the second dose."
India on 13 May had increased the interval between the two doses of Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
The increase in the gap between the doses, from the earlier practised 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks now, is based on a recommendation by a government panel from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).
Commenting on the recent changes in the interval between the vaccine doses in India and UK, Pollard suggests that a decision can be taken on whether high immunity, quicker, is preferable over a longer wait for an even better protection.
“But to get the maximum immune response, it’s worth waiting longer.”Andrew Pollard, Head of Oxford Vaccine Group
Increased Interval Raises Questions
The Health Ministry of India, on 13 May, accepted the recommendation of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), headed by NITI Aayog Member Dr VK Paul, to extend the gap between the two Covishield shots to 12-16 weeks. The decision is reportedly based on 'real world evidence from the UK' that indicates better results on widening the gap between the two shots.
The recommendation to increase the interval for Covishield comes amid an acute shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine doses being reported across the country.
Political leaders from the Opposition, including Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh, have raised doubts about the motive behind the Central government's decision to increase the gap between the vaccine doses, attributing it to the inadequate stocks of the vaccine.
This is the second time in three months that India has increased the interval between Covishield doses for better results. The gap had been similarly widened from 28 days to 6-8 weeks in March.
(With inputs from Times of India)
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