Amid the second Covid-19 wave, new Covid vaccine protocols have been proposed by government panel. The gap between two doses of Serum Institute‘s Covid-19 vaccine Covishield can be increased to 12-16 weeks, a government panel has recommended today, as per some media reports. Currently, the gap is between 4-8 weeks. No changes were suggested for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which remains at four to six weeks. This is the second time in three months that Covishield dosage intervals have been increased. Earlier in March states and UTs were asked to widen the gap from 28 days to six-eight weeks.
According to the process, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) will forward the recommendation to the National Expert Group of Vaccine Administration on Covid-19 (NEGVAC). Then the expert group will send its recommendations to the Health Ministry for approval. So, this entire process may take 1 to 2 days.
The widening of Covishield dosage intervals has been linked to increased efficacy. Currently, the gap is between 4-8 weeks. According to a study published in the international medical journal The Lancet, the 12-week pause will increase the efficacy of the vaccine from 55.1 per cent to 81.3 per cent. This protocol is being followed in the United Kingdom.
The govt panel also said pregnant women can choose their vaccine and lactating women will be eligible after delivery. Currently, neither is eligible for the jabs.
The NTAGI also recommended a vaccine after six months for those who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The Covid jabs should be deferred for six months after recovery.
In the case of individuals who test positive after taking the first shot, they should wait for 4-8 weeks after recovery from the infection.
The recommendations come amid several states reporting a shortage of vaccines. Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana have decided to opt for global tenders for procurement of vaccines to meet the rising demand.
In another development, India’s drug regulator has granted permission for conducting the phase 2, 3 clinical trials of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in the age group of 2 to 18 years, the Union Health Ministry said today. The trial will be conducted on 525 healthy volunteers.
India started the world’s largest vaccination drive on January 16 this year. At present two vaccines – Serum’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are used for the inoculation.