NEW DELHI :
AMID calls to reduce the gap between two doses of Serum Institute of India’s COVID-19 vaccine Covishield based on the new findings by Public Health England, the Central Government will not take the decision to change the dosage interval immediately, said sources, adding that the authorities will review the scientific evidence for the same. “There is going to be no changes in the interval between Covishield doses immediately. However, scientific evidence has been collected to review the decision in the coming meeting of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC),” Government sources told ANI. The Union Health Ministry has said there is no need to panic as such decisions will be taken after careful examination by the experts. “This is a dynamic process. There is no hardcore ideology in Science. Our experts will go through the latest developments and take a call,” said Dr V K Paul, Niti Aayog member (Health) during a press briefing on Friday.
In India, the gap between the two doses of Covishield was widened to 12-16 weeks. The decision on widening the gap was based on international studies that claimed the protection offered by the first dose of the Covishield vaccine lasts longer and the second dose can be taken with a greater gap. Recently, Dr Anthony Fauci, who is the top medical advisor to the United States President, had said that extending intervals between vaccine doses could leave people vulnerable to infection by one of the COVID-19 variants in circulation. ‘No need to panic’: MEMBER Health, NITI Aayog, Dr V K Paul on Friday assured that there is no need for panic over an immediate switchover or change in the gap between the doses of Covishield vaccine. Dr Paul, while addressing a press conference here said, “There is no need for any panic, suggesting the need for immediate switchover or change in the gap between the Covishield doses. All these decisions must be taken very carefully.
We must remember that when we increased the gap, we had to consider the risk posed by the virus to those who have received only one dose. But the counterpoint was that more people will then be able to get the first dose, thereby giving a reasonable degree of immunity to more people.” “In our National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), there are quite a few people who have been a part of WHO panels and committees and are globally renowned and recognised for their eminence. Moreover, NTAGI is regarded as a standard when it comes to global and national immunisation programmes. So, please respect their decisions,” Dr Paul stated. “Let the decision regarding dose interval be examined by NTAGI, as per due process. The United Kingdom must have adopted due process and examined data scientifically, to revise their previous decision regarding the gap. The UK had earlier kept the gap at 12 weeks, but as per data available to us, we did not consider it safe at that point. So, let us entrust this to our scientific fora. They must be addressing it already. They will review it based on the pandemic situation in our country, depending on the extent of prevalence of the delta variant in our country, and then take a comprehensive view. Whichever decision is taken by our scientific community, we will honour it,” he added.