India Increases Gap Between Covishield Doses to 12-16 Weeks
However, no change has been recommended in the interval between two doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, reports said.
India on Thursday, 13 May, increased the gap between the two doses of Serum Institute's COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, to 12-16 weeks, based on the recommendation by a government panel from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).
However, no change has been recommended in the interval between two doses of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
Until now, the interval for Covishield is 6-8 weeks, while for Covaxin it is 4-6 weeks.
Recommendation Amid Vaccine Shortage
The recommendation to increase the interval for Covishield comes amid a shortage in vaccine doses being reported across the country.
According to the sources, the NTAGI also recommended that those testing positive for COVID-19 should defer their vaccination for six months after recovery.
The panel has also reportedly said that pregnant women may be offered the choice to take any COVID-19 vaccine, while lactating women can be eligible for jabs anytime after delivery.
The recommendations will now have to be approved by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVA).
If approved, this will be the second time in three months that the Covishield dosage intervals will be increased. In March, states and UTs were told to expand the gap from 28 days to six-eight weeks "for better results".
What the Karnataka DY CM Said
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka Dr Ashwathnarayan CN took to Twitter to say:
“Today, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the advisory group on COVID-19 vaccines, recommends increasing the gap between 2 doses of Covishied to 12-16 weeks. Extending the gap assists Govt in carrying out the inoculation programme effectively.[sic.]”
He also claimed that many countries are following this practice, saying: “In Canada, for example, the gap is 3-4 months. In the meantime, we are also making all efforts to increase vaccine supply and explore local production options.”
India, however, is presently worst-affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a severe paucity of life-saving resources leading to such a high number of deaths that bodies have been found floating in the Ganga river, multiple crematoriums have reported a shortage of firewood, and the deceased have to wait in queues for their turn to be cremated.
Various states have written to the government urgently seeking more vaccines so that they can cover more people. Many states, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka, have even floated global tenders for direct import of jabs.
Jairam Ramesh, Shashi Tharoor Demand Transparency
Meanwhile, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh asked if the reason for the suggested increase in gap was lack of vaccine stock or some professional advice.
“Can we expect some transparency from the Modi government?” asked the Congress leader.
Congress’ Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and asked the Centre to “please explain to the public the science” behind the recommendation.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.