Government panel recommends 12-16 week gap between Covishield doses
A government expert panel has reportedly recommended raising the time gap between two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Covishield to 12-16 weeks. Currently, the gap between two doses is kept between four to eight weeks. Covishield—developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India—is one of the two vaccines being used in India's vaccination drive.
Sources informed the news agency PTI that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has recommended increasing the gap between two doses of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks. The panel did not suggest any changes for the time interval for the two doses of COVAXIN, which remains at four to six weeks. Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN is the second vaccine in use in India.
Writing in The Indian Express in April, Dr. Gagandeep Kang argued that there is no data suggesting a greater number of post-vaccination breakthrough infections between dose intervals of four, eight, or 12 weeks. Dr. Kang is a microbiology professor at Christian Medical College, Vellore. Citing vaccination data from the United Kingdom, she said, "What we're seeing there is good protection with the first dose."
The NTAGI also recommended that those having laboratory test-proven SARS-CoV-2 illness should defer COVID-19 vaccination for six months after recovery, sources told PTI. The panel further suggested that pregnant women may be offered the choice to take any COVID-19 vaccine, the sources informed the news agency. Lactating women can be inoculated any time after delivery, the panel reportedly suggested.
Initially, for Covishield, an interval of four to six weeks was recommended between the two doses. However, taking note of increased protection with a dose gap of six-eight weeks, the interval was increased to four-eight weeks in March. In April, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that Covishield is 90% effective if the two doses are given 2.5-3 months apart.
In February, a study published in The Lancet had stated that the vaccine is 55.1% effective when the two doses are administered with a gap of less than six weeks. When the dose gap is over 12 weeks, the efficacy increase to 81.3%, it said.