Increase gap between Covishield doses to 12-16 weeks, says expert govt panel

Our Bureau. New Delhi | Updated on May 14, 2021

Revised protocol based on new data, analysis; no change for Covaxin

The government has said that the gap between the first and second doses of Covishield vaccine will hereon be 12-16 weeks from 6-8 weeks now.

However, no change has been suggested for the dosage interval of Covaxin.

This was based on the recommendations of the Covid Working Group, and was accepted by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) at its Wednesday meeting.

“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 the Covishield vaccine. No change in interval of Covaxin vaccine doses was recommended,” a Health Ministry statement said.

More efficacious

Earlier, the Covishied doses were given with a gap of 4-6 weeks and that was based on the data available then with the regulators. With more data becoming available, it was observed in the secondary analysis that if the duration was extended, it is more efficacious. The UK and the WHO also said there should be a lag of 12 weeks. “Our decision was based on scientific evidence,” VK Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, and head of NEGVAC, told the media. This decision was part of the periodic review and this will reduce the risk of infection, he added.

According to agencies, the other recommendations of the panel include no vaccination for those who have tested positive till six months after recovery; four-eight-week after recovery for those who received the first dose but tested positive before the second; defer by three months for Covid-19 patients who have received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma; and four-eight-week wait for those with a serious illness requiring hospitalisation or ICU-care.

India has vaccinated a third of all those 45 and above. This age set had accounted for 88 per cent of all deaths, but with the inoculation drive, this group is protected, Paul said.

Of those scheduled for the second dose, 50 per cent have got their jabs and in States like Kerala, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Tripura this number is at 70 per cent.

Vaccine availability

On vaccine availability, he said that in the next five months around 2 billion doses will be available.

“Any vaccine that is approved by WHO can come to India. Import licences will be given in 1-2 days. No import licence is pending from the government’s side. Maximum numbers must receive as many vaccine doses as they can,” Paul added.

“We are constantly in touch with Pfizer, J&J and Moderna and they have assured us about the manufacturing of vaccines in the third quarter of 2021. We are inviting them to not only export their vaccine to India but also manufacture here,” Paul said.


Cases dipping in 20 States

According to the Health Ministry, nearly 20 States including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan are showing a decreasing trend in daily cases, whereas in nine States, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha, the numbers are rising.

India had administered 17,72,14,256 vaccine doses till Thursday, with 18,94,991 shots given in the last 24 hours till 8:00 am. On Wednesday, 4,17,321 in the 18-44 years age group got a dose of a Covid vaccine and cumulatively 34,66,895 received the jab across 30 States/UTs. The total number of tests done was 18,64,594.

(With inputs from agencies)




Published on May 13, 2021

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