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Gap Between Two Doses of “Covishield” Raised to 6-8 Weeks

Gap Between Two Doses of “Covishield” Raised to 6-8 Weeks

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NEW DELHI, Mar 22: The centre has decided to increase the interval between the two doses of “Covishield” vaccine to six to eight weeks instead of the preset four weeks of gap.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC) and has issued instructions to all the state governments and union territories accordingly.

The revision of interval is applicable only for the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine being manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India as “Covishield” and not for the Bharat Biotech developed indigenous vaccine “Covaxin.” Informing about the updated norm, the Centre wrote to states and Union Territories that it has been found that protection is enhanced if the second dose of Covishield is administered between 6-8 weeks.

The union health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan on Monday communicated the recommendation of the expert committees to the chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories. He has noted that the “Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has accepted the recommendations of NTAGI and NEGVAC and has thereafter advised the States and UTs to ensure the administration of 2nd dose of Covishield to beneficiaries within this stipulated time interval of 4-8 weeks after 1st dose,” the letter read.

“Keeping the existing scientific evidence in view, it appears that protection is enhanced if the second dose of Covishield is administered between 6-8 weeks, but not later than stipulated period of 8 weeks,” it added.

Bhushan also urged the states to instruct the officials concerned accordingly, to undertake necessary steps to widely disseminate the message of revised dosing interval amongst programme managers, vaccinators and recipients of Covishield vaccine, and ensure adherence to the revised dosing interval for maximum efficacy.

The decision follows an upsurge in new Coronavirus cases on the first anniversary day of “Janata curfew” on this day last year followed by nine-week long “lockdown” that badly hit the Indian economy and caused large scale unemployment.

As per the Union Health Ministry, the daily rise in cases started remaining above 30,000 from March 18 and on Monday India recorded 46,951 new cases of coronavirus infections taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 1,16,46,081. Of the total daily cases on Monday, Maharashtra alone recorded 30,535 cases and 2,644 cases reported in Punjab. The number of deaths reported from across the country crossed the 200-figure for the first time since January 12. Active cases now over 3.34 lakh, a level is last seen around December 15.

As the government initiated the ‘unlock’ procedure from June to make up for the economic cost of the lockdown, the Covid-19 cases started to gallop, and India soon became the second worst-hit nation after the US by September.

India crossed the grim milestone of one crore Covid-19 cases on December 19, even as the spread of the virus slowed down with almost a month being taken for the 10 lakh new infections, unlike in the period from August till mid-November when they rose at a faster rate.

Earlier in the day, Uttarakhand new Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has tested positive for Covid-19 and is now placed under isolation. “I have isolated myself under the supervision of the doctors. Those of you who have come in close contact with me in the last few days, please be cautious and get yourself checked”, Rawat tweeted. He was scheduled to reach New Delhi on Monday for a four-day visit to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the union home minister Amit Shah and other central leaders.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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