The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) will meet today to review the dosage interval for Serum Institute's COVID-19 vaccine-- Covishield. India is administering the second dose of Covishield after a gap of 28 days at present. New evidence around the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines suggests that the jab is much more effective when the second dose is administered after 8-12 weeks.
In this meeting, the NTAGI will review the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommendation to extend the gap between two doses of the AstraZeneca- Oxford vaccine from 4 weeks to 8-12 weeks. An official told The Economic Times, "India will follow guidance and suggestions of the WHO. The NTAGI will meet tomorrow and give its recommendations."
The official added that the guidelines related to vaccination will be changed on the basis of NTAGI's suggestions, which would imply a delay of the second dose.
A senior epidemiologist and member of the state expert committee Giridhara Babu told the media outlet, "It is important to offer the choice of a second dose to people to take it after eight weeks. The evidence from the UK shows that the efficacy is better when given after 8-12 weeks. Given that India has accepted the UK evidence in approving the Covishield vaccine, the committee should also consider the interval between doses."
He added since Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is still in phase-3 of trials and there is no data on it, duration of doses for this vaccine should remain unchanged. Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be sending Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to Canada. SII Pune CEO Adar Poonawalla said his company will supply Covishield vaccine to Canada 'in less than a month' after getting regulatory approval from Justin Trudeau government.