The government on Monday revised the interval between two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine. According to the new recommendation, the second dose of the vaccine must be provided at 4-8 weeks' interval after receiving the first dose. Earlier, the dosage was being provided at an interval of 4-6 weeks.
"In view of 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 and subsequently by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19," the government said.
The decision of revised time interval between two doses is applicable only to Covishield, and not to Covaxin, it further clarified. The revision of the dose interval comes amid reports of possible side-effects of the vaccine and its suspension in some European countries. However, the government had said there was "no signal of concern" regarding its use in the country as of now.
In a letter written by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to the Chief Secretaries of States/UTs today, he has noted that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare 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 1st 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 official note said. 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.
Last week, the government had placed a new purchase order with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the supply of 10 crore doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, each costing Rs 157.50, including GST.