New Delhi: The Central government on Monday instructed all the state governments to increase the existing jab interval between two doses of Covishield vaccine from present four to six weeks to six to eight weeks apart, as per reports.
Based on the feedback received from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the government directed the recommended increase in the interval period between the two Covishield doses, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter conveyed to all states and union territories.
“Keeping the existing scientific evidence in view, it appears that protection is enhanced if the second dose of Covishield is administered between six to eight weeks, but not later than stipulated period of eight weeks,” the letter read.
“In view of the emerging scientific evidence, the interval between two doses of a specific COVID-19 vaccine ie Covishield, has been revisited by NTAGI and NEGVAC in its 20th meeting,” the statement read, while directing states and UTs, “This decision of revised time interval between two doses is applicable only to Covishield and not to Covaxin vaccine.”
The decision to increase the interval period also comes in the time when World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended to administer the two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine after a gap of eight to 12 weeks.
“In light of the observation that two-dose efficacy and immunogenicity increase with a longer interdose interval, WHO recommends an interval of 8 to 12 weeks between the doses. If the second dose is inadvertently administered less than 4 weeks after the first, the dose does not need to be repeated,” the expert panel of the international organisation said.
Furthermore, a recent study published in British medical journal stated that a 12-week or three-month interval before the second dose provides better protection.
The study claimed that the vaccine efficacy after the second dose was even higher at 81.3 percent in those with a dosing interval of 12 weeks or more versus 55.1 percent in those with an interval of less than six weeks.
So far, India had been administering the two doses of Covid-19 vaccines at four to six weeks apart, two weeks short of the recommended intervals between the two jabs.