Today, the Centre has granted permission to increase the interval between the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield. Earlier today, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) recommended increasing the gap to 12 to 16 weeks citing ‘better results’.
The recommendation has been thus accepted by the Union Health Ministry. However, there has been no such proven theory that proves the effectiveness of vaccine increases on increasing the gap. Meanwhile, the panel has made no change in the intervals of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Experts have outlined that Covaxin has been developed using a ‘dead virus’, which is incapable of infecting people but still able to instruct the immune system to mount a defensive action against infection.
The decision by the Ministry turns out to be the third increase in the interval for Covishield. In the beginning, when India had started the vaccination drive in January, the recommended gap was four to six weeks. In March, the gap period was revised and extended to four to eight weeks.
On February 19, a study was revealed in the medical journal, the Lancet. It had claimed that if the doses are given at a gap of 12 weeks or more, it increases the effectiveness from 55.1 percent to 81.3 percent.
Commenting on the NTAGI it comprises government representatives from the Department of Women and Child Development, internal finance division in Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Biotechnology, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) along health experts.