No dissent on Covishield doses gap: Ministry
An RTI response from the Union Health Ministry on Monday said there is no document available in the COVID vaccination cell about “data concerning the effects of a gap beyond 12 weeks” for Covishield vaccine.
The Ministry, however, said the decision on increasing the interval is based on the fundamental scientific reason regarding behaviour of adeno vector vaccines and refuted any claims that there was dissent by any member of the COVID-19 Working Group and Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC) of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI).
Releasing minutes of the meeting, it said that records clearly show that the recommended 12-16 weeks dosing interval for Covishield was a unanimous decision.
The RTI response said that “in view of the emerging scientific evidence the interval between two doses of Covishield was revisited by the COVID working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization and subsequently by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in its meeting held on May 12. NEGVAC recommended revision in the schedule of Covishield to administer a second dose at intervals of 12-16 weeks after the first dose. This recommendation was admitted by the Central Government.”
The Health Ministry on its part has maintained that there have been some media reports regarding increase in the gap between two doses of Covishield vaccine from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks, suggesting dissent among the technical experts regarding the decision.
However, “it may be noted that the decision of increasing the gap is based on the scientific reason regarding behaviour of adenovector vaccines and has been discussed thoroughly in meetings of COVID-19 Working Group and Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC) of NTAGI with no dissent from any member,” the Ministry said.
“The 22nd meeting of COVID-19 Working Group of NTAGI was held on May 10, 2021. This COVID-19 Working Group considered a proposal for a change in dose interval for Covishield used under the National Vaccination Policy. It recommended that based on the real-life evidence particularly from the United Kingdom (UK), the COVID-19 Working Group agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield Vaccine,” noted the Health Ministry.
It added that this recommendation of COVID-19 Working Group was further taken up for discussion in the 31st meeting of Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC) of NTAGI which was held under the joint chairpersonship of Secretary, Department of Biotechnology Renu Swarup and DG, Indian Council of Medical Research, Balram Bhargava. In both the meetings i.e. COVID-19 Working Group and STSC, no dissent was given by any of the members.