Centre asks States to increase interval between two doses of Covishield vaccine to 6-8 weeks
New Delhi, March 22, 2021
The Central government today wrote to all States and Union Territories (UTs) advising them to increase the interval between the first and second doses of the Covishield anti-COVID-19 vaccine to 6-8 weeks, citing scientific evidence that protection is enhanced if this is done.
An official press release said that, in view of the emerging scientific evidence, the question of the interval between two doses of the Covishield, which is being manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune in partnership with Oxford-AstraZeneca, was revisited by National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and subsequently by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in its 20th meeting.
During this meeting the recommendation has been revised to provide the second dose of Covishield at 4-8 weeks’ interval after the first dose, instead of earlier practised interval of 4-6 weeks.
"This decision of revised time interval between two doses is applicable only to Covishield and not to Covaxin vaccine," the release said.
Covaxin, the other COVID-19 vaccine available in India, has been indigenously developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
In a letter written to the Chief Secretaries of States and UTs today, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), 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 the first dose.
"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.
"The Union Health Secretary has urged the States and UTs to instruct the concerned officials 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 of the revised dosing interval," the release added.