The Union Health Ministry on Thursday agreed to the recommendation of an expert panel to extend the gap between the two doses of Covishield vaccine. The Centre has now extended it to 12-16 weeks from the current gap of 6-8 weeks.
“Based on the available real life evidence particularly from the 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,” a statement by the Union Health Ministry read.
The pregnant women can choose their vaccine, while lactating ones will be eligible after delivery, the panel said. Notable, neither of the two is eligible to receive the jabs currently.
Furthermore, those who have lab test proven SARS-CoV-2 illness should also postpone COVID-19 vaccination for six months after recovery, it said.
What Adar Poonawalla said?
Meanwhile, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SSI) that makes Covishield, has welcomed the government’s decision.
“This is beneficial both from the efficacy and the immunogenicity standpoint. This is a very good move because this is based on data that the government received on the basis of which they made a good scientific decision to increase the gap,” Adar Poonawalla was quoted as saying by NDTV.
This is the second time in three months that the gap between Covishield jabs has been extended. In March, the gap was increased from 28 days to six-eight weeks “for better results”.
The government’s move has drawn a sharp reaction from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
“First, it was four weeks for the second dose, then six-eight weeks and now we are told 12-16 weeks. Is this because there are not enough stocks of vaccines… or because professional scientific advice says so?” he wrote on Twitter.