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COVID-19: COVISHIELD Dose Interval Based On 'scientific Evidence', Asserts Govt Panel Head

The increase in the COVISHIELD dose interval is based on scientific evidence, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation chairman NK Arora asserted. 

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The increase in the COVISHIELD dose interval is based on "scientific evidence", National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation chairman Dr. NK Arora asserted. Speaking to the media on Monday, he quashed the speculation that the Centre decided to increase the gap between the two doses of COVISHIELD to 12-16 weeks owing to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. According to him, the purpose of this move was to leverage the body's immune response and the vaccine's immune-stimulating so that the best protection is provided to people.

NTAGI head Dr. NK Arora remarked, "For COVISHIELD, the interval has been increased from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks, i.e 3-4 months. This has been based on scientific evidence. We got real-time data from the UK which suggested that if a single dose is given and the interval before the second dose is given, the protection provided is between 65-88%. We certainly want our population to be well protected and immunization is a key intervention."

Weighing in on the decision to defer vaccination of COVID-19 recovered patients by 3 months, he stressed that the committee had taken into account several pieces of evidence. He said, "There are international studies from the UK and North America which suggest that if somebody gets COVID infection, the antibodies persist for 6-7 months. And the person is protected against reinfection at the tune of 84-91%. If someone gets a mild, moderate or severe COVID-19 infection and recover, you are protected for at least 6 months". 

He further elaborated, "In the last few weeks, an Indian study has come which shows that till three months, the risk of reinfection is only about 5%. So, if I wait around 6 months, the probability of a new infection is around 10%. But if I reduce the interval to three months, in that case, the risk of reinfection is just about 5%." 

COVID-19 vaccination in India

A total of 15,24,43,949 persons have been inoculated in India whereas 4,18,75,168 of them have received the second dose of the vaccine too. The Union government has asserted that over 216 crore doses of vaccines will be manufactured in India between August and December. This includes COVISHIELD (75 crore doses), COVAXIN (55 crore doses), Bio E Sub Vaccine (30 crore doses), Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine (5 crore doses), SII-Novavax (20 crore doses), BB Nasal Vaccine (10 crore doses), Genova mRNA vaccine (6 crore doses) and Sputnik V (15.6 crore doses). 

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