The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre whether the 84-day gap between two doses of COVISHIELD was based on availability of the vaccine or its efficacy. The query to the central government came from Justice P B Suresh Kumar while hearing a plea by Kitex Garments Ltd seeking permission to administer the second dose of COVISHIELD vaccine to its workers.
The judge also said that if efficacy was the reason for the gap, then he was "worried" as he was administered the second dose within 4-6 weeks of the first dose. The court said if availability was the reason for the gap, then those who are able to afford to buy it, like Kitex has, they should be allowed to take the second dose without waiting for 84 days as per the prevailing protocol.
The court further said if efficacy was the reason then the scientific data in support of it be also provided. With the direction, the matter was listed for hearing on August 26 after the lawyer for the Centre sought time till Thursday to seek instructions.
Earlier, on August 12, the high court had asked the Kerala government why it was permitting the second dose of vaccine only after expiry of 84 days from the first dose. The court had also asked the Centre what was the reason for increasing the gap between first and second dose of COVISHIELD from the earlier 4 weeks to 12-16 weeks.
On Tuesday, the state government said it was following the COVID vaccination guidelines issued by the Centre. Subsequently, the lawyer for the Centre sought more time to answer the court's query.
Kitex in its plea has said that it has already vaccinated more than 5,000 of its workers with the first dose and has arranged for the second dose, but was unable to administer the same due to the prevailing restrictions.