‘Protection enhanced’: Centre asks states to increase interval between 2 doses of Covishield

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The decision, the government said, has been taken based on the recommendations of the country’s vaccine expert groups and communicated to all the state and union territories by Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Srivatsan K C, New Delhi

PUBLISHED ON MAR 22, 2021 04:18 PM IST

The central government on Monday has asked the states and Union territories to increase the interval between the two doses of the Covishield, one of the two Covid-19 vaccines being given across the country as part of natiowide inoculation drive. The Centre has asked states to administer the second dose to beneficiaries after four to eight weeks of the first dose. The interval was earlier fixed at four to six weeks after the first dose.

The decision, the government said, has been taken based on the recommendations of the country’s vaccine expert groups and communicated to all the state and union territories by Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

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In a statement, the Union health ministry said, “In view of the emerging scientific evidence, the interval between two doses of a specific COVID-19 vaccine i.e. COVISHIELD, has been 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 2nd dose of COVISHIELD at 4-8 weeks’ interval after the 1st dose, instead of earlier practiced interval of 4-6 weeks.” The ministry also noted that the changes have been notified only for the Covishield vaccine and not Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

The letter also said that the health ministry “has accepted the recommendations of NTAGI and NEGVAC and has thereafter advised the States and UTs to ensure the administration of second dose of COVISHIELD to beneficiaries within this stipulated time interval of 4-8 weeks after 1st dose.”

Bhushan mentioned that protection from the Covishield vaccine is enhanced if the second dose is administered in six to eight weeks from the first dose and no later than eight weeks, citing existing scientific evidence. He has also urged the states to strictly adhere to the revised time intervals.

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According to the latest data from the ministry, 45,065,998 vaccine doses have been administered in the country as of 8am on Monday. Covishield developed by British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin have been administered to beneficiaries in the country’s vaccination drive, which began on January 16, 2021.

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