The government’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has recommended a reduction in the gap between the first and second dose of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in the country. The dosage interval for Serum Institute of India’s vaccine would be reduced from 12-16 weeks to 8-16 weeks.
This suggestion comes at a time when a second wave of Omicron has been reported globally with a surge in cases in Europe and South East Asia.
Under the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, the second dose of the Covishield is currently being administered 12-16 weeks after the first dose. As per the latest recommendation, the second dose can now be administered eight weeks after the first dose.
Total Covid-19 vaccination in the country has crossed the 1.81 billion mark and Covishield accounted for 1.5 billion doses administered till date. The country has administered 971 million first doses of the vaccine, 819 million second doses and 20 million precautionary doses. States and Union territories have a stock of around 17 million unused vaccine doses.
The government has started the Covishield vaccination programme with a dosage interval of six to eight weeks. During the second surge of the pandemic in May 2021, this gape was increased by the government to 12-16 weeks.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, has also called for a reduction in the gap between the second dose and the third dose of the Covishield vaccine being administered in the country.
The gap mandated by the government for precautionary Covid-19 vaccine dose is nine months or 39 weeks after the second shot. Poonawalla has suggested that the gap between the second and third dose to be six months as has been done globally. “Our objective must be to get the population fully vaccinated to curb the spread of the pandemic,” Poonawalla had said.
Serum Institute had a stockpile of 500 million doses of Covishield by December 2021 and had said it would cut production as it had no orders either from the Indian government or from the export markets. The company’s production had been ramped up to 250 million doses a month. These vaccine has a shelf life of nine months. The eight month ban on exports led to SII losing market share in the export markets to other vaccine manufacturers.