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Reduce booster dose gap to six months: Adar Poonawalla

Abhishek Law | Updated on: Apr 12, 2022
Adar Poonawalla , CEO, Serum Institute of India, speaks at the ‘AIMA Leadership Conclave’,  in New Delhi, on Tuesday

Adar Poonawalla , CEO, Serum Institute of India, speaks at the ‘AIMA Leadership Conclave’, in New Delhi, on Tuesday | Photo Credit: KAMAL NARANG

SII has 200 million doses and stock uptake is a bit slow

The gap between the second Covid vaccine jab and third (booster dose) should be brought down to six months, against the current 270 days (nine months), said Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, on Tuesday. Serum’s Covishield is the most-dominant Covid vaccine in India with a majority market share. According to him, apart from aiding foreign travel, booster doses will keep people better prepared against future variants, including recombinants.

The uptick for vaccines is currently a bit slow, but numbers could improve if the gap between dose 2 and dose 3 is brought down.

Precautionary doses for adults (18-59 years) started up April 10, with doses being administered across private hospitals.

“The uptake right now is a bit slow. And that is because we have this rule that the gap between dose 2 and dose 3 has to be of nine months. We have appealed to the government and the experts to see how this gap could be brought down to six months ,” he said on the sidelines of AIMA’s national leadership conclave.

“So, you see, then only those who have taken dose 2 in (or before) August will be eligible for boosters. If reduced to six months, then a lot more people become eligible for the dose,” Poonawalla added. According to him, in all other countries, including European nations, the gap between two doses are six months or less. All vaccines as a booster have shown “good results against all variants”, and there is data globally to prove this.

The company has a stock of 200 million vaccines, which includes doses for boosters and exports, and “that’s worrying”, he said. The stock however is “slowly moving out”.

“You got new mutant variants, people want to travel out; a lot of countries want gap between doses to be 6 months or less. The new variant (XE) is not as bad, but we will have to wait and watch and see how it spreads. That is why it is very important to boost up,” he said.

Vaccine prices

Poonawalla said slashing vaccine price will make it “more affordable to the people”, and his company has also announced a compensation policy for hospitals. The price differential between higher priced older stock and new doses will be compensated through additional stocks thereby, ensuring no loss to hospitals.

Published on April 12, 2022
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