Over the last few weeks, as India expanded its COVID-19 vaccination drive to include all adults, several states have flagged their dwindling supplies. India has so far approved three vaccines for emergency usage, with only two in use until this week. Each of these are two dose vaccines, with the gap varying depending the jab you take. Earlier this week, the COVID-19 Working Group chaired by Dr NK Arora recommended the extension of the gap between Covishield doses. Interestingly enough, even as the Centre accepted this recommendation, the UK seems to be heading in the Opposite direction.
For the uninitiated, Covishield is Indian edition of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. While the two dose vaccine was being administered with a gap of six to eight weeks, this has been doubled now to the recommended extension of to 12-16 weeks. The decision comes even as mutants including the B.1.617.2 strain that was first detected in India last year.
According to reports, B.1.617.2 has now spread to more than 40 countries across the world. And in the UK, this very strain has prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce that the country is planning to accelerate its coronavirus vaccination program for priority groups.
According to him, those aged over 50 and those considered clinically vulnerable will now be be able to get their second vaccine dose after eight weeks. The development comes after four people in Britain contacted this variant and died. While officials did not name names while making the recommendation, the UK is presently using three vaccines - Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Coming back to India, it would seem that as cases rise and the need to vaccinate people as fast as possible grows, some are uncertain about the expansion of the drive in the first place. As per a recent NDTV report, that quotes Dr NK Arora, the inclusion of those between the ages of 18 and 45 should have been held off for some time yet.
"Expanding the age group to 18-45...clearly there is no vaccine available, there is a shortage. I would say this (expansion) should have been deferred for a while," he told the publication.