Not Changing Dose Interval Immediately Says Centre, Collecting More Scientific Evidence Being Collected, Dr. VK Paul Dr. Harsh Vardhan

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New Delhi: The government on Friday informed that there are going to be no changes in the interval between Covishield doses immediately adding that scientific evidence has been collected to review the decision in the coming meeting of NEGVAC.

A recent Lancet study suggested that it would be better to reduce that gap between doses, in light of the variants in circulation, Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health) at NITI Aayog, said there is a need to balance such concerns.

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While addressing a media briefing, Dr. Paul was quoted by PTI as saying, “There is no need for any panic, suggesting a need for immediate switchover or change in the gap between the doses. All these decisions must be taken very carefully. We must remember that when we increased the gap, we had to consider the risk posed by the virus to those who have received only one dose. But the counterpoint was that more people will then be able to get the first dose, thereby giving a reasonable degree of immunity to more people.”

“We need to balance these concerns. So, please remember, that we need to necessarily have this debate and discourse in the public domain; however, the decision has to be taken by appropriate fora comprising eminent people who are knowledgeable about this,” he said.

He further stated, that at the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), there are quite a few people who have been a part of WHO panels and committees and are globally renowned and recognised for their eminence. Moreover, NTAGI is regarded as a standard when it comes to global and national immunization programmes. “So, please respect their decisions,” he said.

Welcoming a discourse on this topic, Dr. Paul highlighted the need for due scientific process in arriving at such decisions. He appealed to the public to respect the decision taken by NTAGI, a body of globally renowned experts.

“Let the decision regarding dose interval be examined by NTAGI, according to due process. The UK must have adopted due process and examined data scientifically, to revise their previous decision regarding the gap. The UK had earlier kept the gap at 12 weeks, but as per data available to us, we did not consider it safe at that point,” he said.

“So, let us entrust this to our scientific fora, they must be addressing it already. They will review it based on the pandemic situation in our country, depending on the extent of prevalence of the delta variant in our country, and then take a comprehensive view. Whichever decision is taken by our scientific community, we will honour it,” Mr Paul stated.

A study published in the medical journal Lancet found that the antibody response to variants is lower in people who have received just one dose and a longer gap between doses may significantly reduce antibodies against the Delta variant which is dominant in India. The study was conducted using Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine against five Covid strains, including variants of concerns B.1.617.2 (Delta) and B.1.351 (Beta) first detected in South Africa). The other three variants were:Β a strain with the original spike sequence (Wild-type); a strain with an Asp614Gly mutation isolated during the first wave of infection in the UK (D614G); and B.1.1.7 (Alpha).Β 

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