UPDATED: May 13, 2021 13:20 IST
Increase the gap between two doses of Serum Institute of India‘s Oxford Covid-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ to 12-16 weeks, a government panel has recommended. Currently, the interval between two doses of Covishield is four to eight weeks.
No change in dosage interval for Covaxin was suggested by the panel.
Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are waiting to take the vaccine should defer vaccination for six months after recovery, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) recommended. Coronavirus Updates on May 13
The government panel said those having laboratory test-proven SARS-CoV-2 illness should defer Covid-19 vaccination for six months after recovery.
Pregnant women may be offered the choice to take any Covid-19 vaccine and that lactating women can be inoculated any time after delivery, the central government panel added.
As per sources, the panel said that pregnant women may be offered a choice to take any Covid-19 vaccine and added that lactating women are eligible for jabs any time after delivery.
The recommendations of the NTAGI will be sent to the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19.
The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s indigenously developed Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield are currently being used in India’s inoculation drive against coronavirus.
Earlier in March, the Centre had written to states and Union Territories to increase the gap between two doses of Covishield from 4-6 weeks to 4-8 weeks.
What Lancet said on the gap between Oxford vaccine doses
A three-month interval between doses of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine results in higher vaccine efficacy than a six-week gap, according to a new study which says the first dose can offer up to 76 per cent protection in the months between the two jabs, a study in Lancet said.
The results of the analysis from a Phase 3 randomised controlled trial, published in The Lancet journal, suggested that the interval between doses can be safely extended to three months given the protection a single dose offers.
“In the long term, a second dose should ensure long-lived immunity, and so we encourage everyone who has had their first vaccine to ensure they receive both doses,” said study lead author Professor Andrew Pollard from the University of Oxford.
Covid vaccination drive faltering in several states
India started the world’s largest vaccination drive on January 16 this year in a phased manner with healthcare workers (HCWs) getting inoculated first. The vaccination of frontline workers (FLWs) started on February 2.
The next phase of Covid-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for those over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions. India launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 from April 1.
Even as the second wave of Covid-19 wreaks havoc, states have reported an acute shortage of Covid-19 vaccines. Maharashtra on Wednesday suspending its drive to vaccinate people in the age group of 18 to 44 years and Delhi temporarily shut Covaxin administering centres for them as it has run out of stock.
Amid demands to ramp up domestic supply, Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have submitted to the Centre their production plan for the next four months, informing that they can scale it up to 10 crores and 7.8 crore doses respectively by August, official sources said.
While the vaccination drive appeared to be faltering in several states, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan urged them to first focus more on second dose vaccinations.
He stressed that India is the fastest country globally to reach the landmark of administering 17 crore doses in 114 days.
The minister pointed out that of this, while 13.66 crore people have been administered the first dose, the second dose has been administered to only 3.86 crores, the ministry said. “Hence, it is very important that we first focus more on second dose vaccinations. States should not lose sight of those who are to get the second dose of the Covid vaccine.”
Meanwhile, leaders of 12 opposition parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a free mass vaccination campaign against coronavirus among other steps in the wake of the COVID crisis.
“Procure vaccines centrally from all available sources – global and domestic. Immediately begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country. Invoke compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production. Spend budgetary allocation of Rs 35,000 crores for the vaccines,” the leaders said in their letter.