The Indian government has ruled out reducing the gap between the doses of Covishield in a bid to speed up administering both jabs to more people even when vaccine production and availability are increasing.
Indian public health experts have raised concerns over the government's rule, pointing out that relaxation should be given at least to immunosuppressed people, people with comorbidities, reports the India Times.
Amar Jesani, editor of Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, feels that independent experts should review the government stand.
"Let them go through the data, and if they find that the lengthening of the period was not justified, let the government admit their mistake," he said. The government had in May this year decided to increase the gap between the two doses of Covishield, the Covid-19 vaccine by the Serum Institute to 12-16 weeks from the existing 6-8 weeks after the government's advisory body recommended it amid acute shortage of vaccines.
However, with the vaccine availability increasing by the day, experts say that the gap should be shortened for the elderly, immunosuppressed and persons over 45 with comorbidities. Serum Institute of India (SII) is gearing up to supply 200 million doses of Covishield this month as vaccination drive gains pace in the face of a possible third wave.
Government officials say that the programme will continue to have the current dose interval. "The data is always under review and changes will be made only if required," said a senior government official.
Sandeep Budhiraja, the group medical director at Max Healthcare, said that reducing the gap should be considered for those who must travel. "With the travel opening up and the mandatory requirement to show a full vaccine certificate is becoming an issue for those who have to travel. The government should think of shortening the time gap," he added.
Some experts have a different point of view though.
CMC Vellore microbiology professor Gagandeep Kang said there is no need to shorten the gap.