Second Dose Of Covishield Should Be Taken After 12-16 Weeks: Recommends Government Panel

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Government panel on Covishield second dose: The gap between the first and second doses of  Covishield vaccine should be increased to 12-16 weeks instead of the current gap of four to six weeks so the protection from the virus is enhanced, a government panel suggested on Thursday. Serum Institute of India’s Covishield was developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca.

A year after the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NTAGI) panel also said that no changes are needed in dosage interval for Covaxin, the other approved vaccine in use in India as of now. The panel also said, as efficacy data are available, pregnant women can choose their vaccine and lactating women will be eligible any time after delivery. Under current vaccination guidelines, neither pregnant nor lactating women are not recommended to get the shots.

The NTAGI also advised that infected patients who have serious illnesses and in ICU care should wait four-eight weeks to take the Covishield vaccine. These recommendations, however, will have to be approved by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVA) before implementation.

In March 2021, states and Union Territories were instructed to increase the gap of Covishield from 28 days to six-to-eight weeks “for better results”. Back then, India was in the middle of round two of nationwide vaccinations, in which people above 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities were being inoculated. Read more here.

Covishield and Covaxin have been used in the vaccination drive that rolled out on January 16. A study published in the medical journal The Lancet on February 19 claimed a 26.2 percent increase – from 55.1 percent to 81.3 percent – if doses were given 12 or more weeks apart. Earlier, a study had also shown that Covishield offers protection from the double mutant variant or B.1.617 first detected in India.

As cases surge due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in India, production of Covishield faced a roadblock owing to shortage of raw material. Last month, Serum Institute of India’s (SII) CEO, Adar Poonawalla tweeted to the US President Joe Biden, asking him for the export of raw materials required for the large scale vaccine production. On April 26, it was reported that US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had confirmed that the US will send raw materials for Covishield to India. Sharing Sullivan’s statement, Biden tweeted that the US was ” determined to help India in its time of need.” Read more on that here.

Image Credit: DW