No need to panic on need for immediate change in dosage interval of Covishield: Government

NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday dismissed media reports claiming there was dissent from technical experts about increasing the gap between two Covishield doses and said the decision was based on scientific reason about the behaviour of adenovector vaccines.

The Centre on May 13 had approved extending the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine from six to eight weeks to 12 to 16 weeks following a recommendation from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI). The 22nd meeting of COVID-19 Working Group of NTAGI was held on May 10.

There, a proposal for a change in dose interval for Covishield, used under the National Vaccination Policy, was considered.

Based on the real-life evidence, particularly from the United Kingdom, the COVID-19 Working Group agreed to increase the interval between two doses of Covishield Vaccine to 12 to 16 weeks, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

This recommendation was taken up for discussion at the meeting of the Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC) of NTAGI held on May 13 under the joint chairpersonship of the secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, the secretary of Department of Health Resources and the DG of the Indian Council of Medical Research, it said.

“The STSC of NTAGI gave the following recommendation: ‘as per the COVID-19 Working Group recommendation, a dosing interval of minimum three months between two doses of Covishield vaccine was recommended’,” the statement said.

“It may be noted that the decision of increasing the gap is based on scientific reason regarding behaviour of adenovector vaccines and has been discussed thoroughly in meetings of COVID-19 Working Group and STSC of NTAGI with no dissent from any member,” it said.

In both the meetings — of the COVID-19 Working Group and of the STSC — no dissent was given by any of the three members who have been quoted in the news report, namely Dr Mathew Varghese, Dr M D Gupte and Dr J P Muliyil, the statement said.

It also said that Dr Varghese has denied talking to the reporter on the issue of his alleged dissent.