New Delhi: The central government is considering reducing the gap between two Covishield doses for those 45 years and older. Currently, the gap between two doses of the vaccine is set at 12-16 weeks for all adults.
The government was under criticism for increasing the dosage intervals due to shortage of vaccines in the country without much scientific evidence backing it. The decision was also said to have made to gain time to procure more doses.
The decision for narrowing the dosage intervals is yet to be made by the next fortnight to a month after reviewing the scientific data collected by it, as indicated by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI).
Dr N.K. Arora, Chief of NTAGI, said in an interview that the organisation has gathered data on the impact of vaccines and its dosage interval on different age groups and from different regions, especially for those above 45 years and elderly based on final scientific evidence.
Experts say that a single dose of Covishield has shown a strong immune response in scientific studies.
UK and India are the two biggest users of the covid-19 vaccine. The UK has reduced the dosing interval to a maximum of two months, while India began with a four-week interval but later extended the gap to 4-8 weeks based on available evidence at the time. Later, further expanded the gap to 12-14 weeks.
Arora mentioned in an interview that the increase in the gap between two doses was based on studies that showed higher efficacy with an increase in the gap. Adding to his statement he said, “We do have enough doses and should cover the whole eligible population, but we don’t have spare doses. We will take a decision based on scientific evidence.”
India has also been exporting Covishield to some countries as the Serum Institute of India (SII) has also committed to supply it to the World Health Organization’s Covax (an arrangement to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines across the globe).
According to the government, the required number of doses to vaccinate the current population of the country is around 1.88 billion. The government has aimed to fully vaccinate every adult by December this year.