The Centre on Friday asserted that there is no need for immediate change in Covishield COVID-19 vaccine dosage interval amid reports saying that it would be better to shorten the gap between the two doses.
As of now, based on the recommendations by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the schedule of the Covishield vaccine under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy is to administer the second dose at 12-16 weeks interval (i.e. after 84 days), after administration of the first dose.
Dr VK Paul, member (Health) at NITI Aayog, addressing a media briefing on COVID-19, said, “There is no need for any panic, suggesting need for immediate switchover or change in the gap between the 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.”
“We need to balance these concerns. So, please remember, that we need to necessarily have this debate and discourse in the public domain; however, the decision has to be taken by appropriate fora comprising eminent people who are knowledgeable about this,” he said.
Dr Paul also urged to “respect the decisions” of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) as quite a few people of NTAGI have been a part of WHO panels and committees and are globally renowned and recognized for their eminence.
“NTAGI is regarded as a standard when it comes to global and national immunization programmes. So, please respect their decisions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that people who have to travel abroad can now take the second dose of the Covishield vaccine after 28 days. Earlier, the second dose of the Covishield vaccine was being administered after 28 days but later, it was extended to 12 weeks.
“It is advised that vaccination may be availed in cases through passport which is one of the permissible ID documents as per the current guidelines so that the passport number is printed in the Certificate,” it said.