Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday accepted the recommendation of the COVID working group to extend the gap between the first and second doses of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India's COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' vaccine to 12-16 weeks. The present gap between the two doses of the vaccine is 6-8 weeks.

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan took to Twitter regarding the decision made by the ministry. He tweeted: "Gap between 2 doses of #CovishieldVaccine has been increased to 12-16 weeks from 6-8 weeks currently. Decision has been taken based on recommendations given by COVID working group after analysing emerging evidence."

Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has also welcomed the Centre's move. "This is beneficial both from the efficacy and the immunogenicity standpoint. This is a very good move because this is based on data that the government received on the basis of which they made a good scientific decision to increase the gap," Poonawalla told NDTV.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, based on the available real-life evidence, particularly from the United Kingdom, the COVID-19 Working Group agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield vaccine. No such changes were recommended for the interval of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.

"The recommendation of the COVID Working Group was accepted by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), headed by Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog in its meeting on May 12," the Ministry said.

"The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also accepted this recommendation of the COVID Working Group for extension of the gap between the first and second doses of COVISHIELD vaccine to 12 -16 weeks," it said.

(With PTI inputs)

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