New Delhi: The Centre has approved extending the gap between the first and second dose of the Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks following recommendations by Covid Working Group chaired by N.K. Arora. The current gap between administering two doses of the vaccine is 6-8 weeks. The time interval for taking Covaxin remains unchanged.
The working group, based on the available real-life evidences, particularly from UK, agreed on increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield vaccine.
“Based on available real-life evidence, particularly from the United Kingdom, the COVID-19 Working Group has agreed to increase dosing interval between two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks. No change in intervals for Covaxin was recommended,” the government said in its statement.
Earlier in the day, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization had recommended the same to the Centre.
Adar Poonawalla, whose Serum Institute manufactures Covishield, said, “This is beneficial both from efficacy and immunogenicity standpoint… good scientific decision to increase the gap.”
This is the second time in three months that Covishield dosage intervals have been increased. Earlier in March, the government had told states, UTs to increase the gap from 28 days to six-eight weeks for better results.
The timing of these recommendations have attracted sarcastic response from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who flagged the ever-widening recommended interval between doses.
“First, it was 4 weeks for the 2nd dose, then 6-8 weeks and now we are told 12-16 weeks. Is this because there are not enough stocks of the vaccines for all who are eligible or because professional scientific advice says so? Can we expect some transparency from the Modi Govt?” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, many states and UTs continue to face the shortage of vaccine doses leading to suspension of inoculation of people between the age of 18 and 44 even as Centre announced vaccination for all adult from May 1.