Amid a shortage of the Covishield vaccine in India, the NTAGI recommends increasing the dosage to 12-16 weeks to strengthen the vaccine's efficacy.
On May 13, 2021, Harsh Vardhan, Health and Family Welfare Minister, announced that the government is increasing the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine from the earlier 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks. According to the Union Health Ministry, the decision was based on science and real-life data. Vardhan said a clinical research study in the U.K. found that increasing the time between doses would boost the vaccine efficacy by 26.2 percent. However, the timing of the decision coincides with an acute shortage of vaccines in India.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) and Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute in India, have backed the government's decision to increase the vaccine dosage. This is not the first time the government has altered the vaccine dosage intervals. In March, the central government extended the gap between the second dose of the Covishield vaccine - from 28 days to 8 weeks.
However, several politicians, including Indian National Congress' Jairam Ramesh, have blamed the dosage interval on vaccine shortfall. India is facing a severe shortage of vaccines. Several states are struggling to vaccinate adults in the 18-44 age group. Due to the short supply, Maharashtra and Karanataka have temporarily halted the vaccination drive for people below 45 years.
The U.S. infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci has called the Indian government's decision a "reasonable approach" as extending the vaccine interval would let the government immunize more people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.