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Government panel to meet today to examine widening dosage gap of Covishield

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) will meet on Friday to review the vaccine dosage interval forCovishield, theAstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccineproduced bySerum Institute of India(SII).

At present, India is giving the second dose of Covishield after a gap of 28 days. However, new evidence suggests that efficacy is better when the second dose is given after 8-12 weeks.

According to people in the know, the NTAGI will review the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of stretching the gap between doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from the current four weeks to 8-12 weeks.

“India will follow guidance and suggestions of the WHO. The NTAGI will meet tomorrow and give its recommendations,” said an official who did not want to be named.

An expert panel of the UN health agency has suggested an 8-12 week interval between two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The central guidelines will be changed based on the suggestions of NTAGI. This may mean delay of the second dose,” said the official.

Giridhara Babu, a senior epidemiologist and member of the state expert committee, said the government should consider giving the second dose of Covishield after 12 weeks. “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 told ET.

As Covaxin is still in the phase-3 trial stage, Babu said there is no data on Covaxin and, hence, the duration of doses for this vaccine should not be changed.

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