covishield: Centre may reduce interval between Covishield doses | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: State government officials say the Centre is open to the proposal of reducing the interval between two doses of Covishield vaccine from the current 12-16 weeks to the original 4-6 weeks and orders to this effect are likely to be issued soon.
Given vast improvements in vaccine production and supply, experts advising the government in Karnataka had recommended that the interval between doses of Covishield be reduced. However, the 4-6-week time gap for Covaxin, the other vaccine that is administered free by the government, is likely to continue.
The state’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on Sunday wrote to the state government suggesting that it request the Centre to reduce the time gap of Covishield doses so that second dose coverage can be speeded up. This will also ensure people are fully protected ahead of an anticipated third wave of infections, the committee said.
“Reducing the time gap is important to expedite vaccine coverage,” said Dr MK Sudarshan, chairman, TAC. “The government reduced the interval for Covishield to one month for students headed abroad and this should be applicable to all.”
Originally, when the vaccination drive began in January, the time gap for Covishield was fixed at 4-6 weeks but then it was changed to 6-8 weeks. Subsequently, it was further increased to 12-16 weeks in May when the second wave of Covid-19 was at its peak and supply of vaccines at its lowest.
Production and supply improved remarkably in July and consequently, the vaccination drive gathered pace with the state even organising special drives. For example, it administered 31 lakh doses on September 17 alone, while it has set itself a target of12 lakh doses every Wednesday.
In Karnataka, about 78%
(3.8 lakh people) of the target population has been administered with the first dose and 30% (1.5 lakh people) have been fully inoculated (both doses). The corresponding figures at the India level are 66% for the first dose and 22% with both doses. A total of 82.4 crore doses have been administered across the country.
Vax production ramped up
As per projections by the Union government, vaccine production will increase to 30 crore doses in October and supply will reach 100 crore by December. Karnataka is now receiving around one crore doses per month and state government officials expect it to increase to 1.5 crore in October.
“If that happens and at the current pace of the drive, demand for the first dose will drastically come down from next month. It is the right time to reduce the time gap between doses of Covishield,” said a senior official from the state health department.
The official said that while the state government will formally write to the Centre on the issue soon, the Union government has already indicated that it is in favour of reducing the time gap.
“The time gap issue is under constant review as we are studying evidence available,” said Dr NK Arora, chairman, national expert group on vaccine administration. “All decisions have been and will be based on science and are aimed at providing the best protection to our people. National vaccine tracker has shown that one dose provides 97% and two doses provide 98% protection against death,” he added.
Dr Arundathi Chandrashekhar, managing director, National Health Mission-Karnataka, said the state is waiting to hear from the Centre on the issue. “It [recucing the interval] has been under discussion for some time now. As supply of doses is adequate, we can ramp up the pace of the vaccination drive if the time gap is reduced. We are waiting for fresh guidelines from the goverment of India.”

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Sagar Biswas

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