New Delhi, March 22:
The Centre has asked the state and union territory governments to increase the interval between the two doses of Covishield vaccine and make it 6-8 weeks based on the recommendation of two expert panels.
The new recommendations have said that the immunity is enhanced if the second dose of Covishield is administered after 6-8 weeks instead of the current 28 days’ gap.
Currently, the two doses of the Covishield vaccine are being administered across India with a gap of 28 days.
In view of the emerging scientific evidence, the interval between two doses of Covid-19 vaccine Covishield has been revisited by National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and subsequently by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in its 20th meeting.
Now, the expert panels have recommended to administer the second dose of Covishield vaccine at 4-8 weeks’ interval after the first dose, instead of the earlier practiced interval of 4-6 weeks.
This decision of revised interval between the two doses is applicable only on Covishield and not Covaxin, officials of the health ministry have clarified.
In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to the Chief Secretaries of States/UTs on Monday, noting that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has accepted the recommendations of NTAGI and NEGVAC and has thereafter advised the States and UTs to ensure the administration of the second dose of Covishield to beneficiaries within this stipulated time interval of 4-8 weeks after the first dose.
The Union Health Secretary has further urged the States and UTs to instruct the concerned officials accordingly to undertake necessary steps to widely disseminate the message of revised dosing interval amongst programme managers, vaccinators and recipients of Covishield vaccine and ensure adherence to the revised dosing interval.
For now, the second dose of Covaxin will continue to be taken at an interval of 28 days as prescribed earlier.
Keeping the existing scientific evidence in view, it appears that protection is enhanced if the second dose of Covishield is administered between 6-8 weeks, but not later than the stipulated period of 8 weeks.