Citing scientific reasons, the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) has said there will be no reduction in the interval between two doses of Covishield vaccine for Covid-19. Last week, state health minister Rajesh Tope wrote to the ICMR seeking reduction in interval against the backdrop of fewer eligible beneficiaries for the second dose than the available stock.
In August, the Centre had told the Kerala High Court that the 84-day gap between two doses of Covishield was fixed to increase the efficacy of the vaccine, as recommended by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC). The decision was also based on the technical inputs provided by the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NITAG). Hospitals and centres across the country are currently trying reduced gap for a study sample. There’s a possibility of second dose after four weeks if the study report submitted to the ICMR recommends as much.
A senior ICMR official said, “We are looking at real-world evidence from across the world to assess the effectiveness of the current regimen. We will take a call on the dose gap soon.”
Dr Lancelot Pinto, consultant pulmonologist at Hinduja Hospital, said that the decision was a consequence of both science and availability. Science suggests that a longer gap between two doses is associated with greater efficacy, and even a single dose offers significant protection against hospitalisation and death. This, combined with limited availability of vaccines drove the policy decision of 84 days as being optimal.