The gap between two doses of the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine can be increased to 12-16 weeks, a government panel recommended Thursday, according to a report by news agency PTI. No changes were suggested for Covaxin which remains at four to six weeks.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization also said pregnant women can choose their vaccine and lactating women will be eligible after delivery. Currently neither is eligible to get the shots.
These recommendations will be sent to NEGVA – the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration – for approval before they are implemented.
Dr CN Ashwathnarayan, the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka – one of several states to flag low vaccine stocks – later tweeted: "Extending the gap assists the government in carrying out the inoculation programme effectively".
"Many countries follow this practice. In Canada the gap is three-four months. In the meantime, we are making all efforts to increase supply and explore local production options," he said.
This is the second time in three months Covishield dosage intervals have been widened; in March states and UTs were told to increase the gap from 28 days to six-eight weeks "for better results".
At that time the centre also said: "protection was enhanced if the second dose of Covishield was administered between six and eight weeks but not later than that".
The changes prompted a sarcastic swipe from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who flagged the ever-widening recommended interval between doses.
"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 asked.
Report by Chetali S M
Reported on – 13/05/2021