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‘Decision Based on Scientific Data’: Government Defends Movement to Increase Gap Between Covishield Doses | India News

NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday defended his move to increase the gap between Covishield doses, saying the decision was made transparently based on scientific data.
The Health Ministry stated that they are discussing whether India should return to a four- to eight-week interval for the Covishield vaccine and emerging evidence on the efficacy of partial versus total immunization is also being considered.
“India has a robust mechanism to evaluate the data. The decision to increase the gap between the administration of 2 doses of Covishield has been made transparently based on scientific data,” Harsh Vardhan said on Twitter.

Clarifying the government’s position on increasing the gap between Covishield doses, India’s NTAGI Covid-19 task force chair Dr. NK Arora said the decision was made “scientifically, giving an primary importance to the health and protection of the community “.
“The Covid Task Force made that decision, without dissenting voices. This issue was later discussed in a threadbare manner at an NTAGI meeting, again with no notes of disagreement. The recommendation was that the vaccination interval should be 12 to 16 weeks, ”he stated.

Dr. Arora said the earlier four-week decision was based on the bridge trial data available at the time. He also cited that the increase in the gap between two doses was based on studies that showed greater efficacy with an increase in the gap.
“The initial studies on Covishield were very heterogeneous. Some countries like the UK opted for a 12-week dose interval when they introduced the vaccine in December 2020. While we were aware of this data, when we had to decide our interval, we opted for a four-week interval based on our bridge test. data that showed a good immune response, “he said.
“Later we came across additional laboratory and scientific data, according to which, after approximately six weeks, we felt that we should increase the interval from four to eight weeks, as studies showed that the efficacy of the vaccine is approximately the 57% when it is four weeks and around 60% when it is eight weeks ”, he added.
Speaking about why the NTAGI did not increase the gap before 12 weeks, he said: “We decided that we should wait for ground-level data from the UK (the other biggest user of the AstraZeneca vaccine).”
He also said that there were other examples like Canada, Sri Lanka and some other countries that are using a 12-16 week interval for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the same as the Covishield vaccine.

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