A scientific advisory group on Covid-19 has recommended reducing the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine for Covid-19 in the country from 12-16 weeks to 8-16 weeks.
However, sources in the Union health ministry told The Indian Express that no decision has been made at the level of government on the recommendations made by the Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). The final decision to reduce the gap between two doses of Covishield will be made in the next few days, sources said.
On May 13 last year, the Centre increased the interval between the two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks, citing real-life evidence from the United Kingdom. Prior to that, the prescribed gap between two doses of Covishield was 6-8 weeks.
The recommendations by the Covid-19 working group comes at a time when India has rolled out the precautionary third dose to priority groups — elderly population above 60 years of age, healthcare workers, and the frontline workers. Due to the prescribed long gap between the first two doses of Covishield, only 2.17 crore beneficiaries have been administered the precautionary third dose. Reducing the gap between two doses of Covishield to 8-16 weeks will significantly result in increasing the coverage of the precautionary dose to priority groups.
Significantly, the NTAGI is also currently deliberating on the scientific evidence to extend the precautionary third dose to population groups under 60 years of age.