The findings will soon be submitted to the health ministry for further consideration for policy making, an official source said. “We have been reviewing the data on a regular basis and now since large scale data of vaccinated people is available, we have studied that too. Any decision will be driven by these scientific facts,” the source said.
According to the source, there is “no question of reducing the gap because the data shows that the immune response has improved with a gap of three months between two doses of Covishield”.
Of the total more than 112 crore doses of Covid vaccine administered in the country so far, 88% are Covishield, a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZencea. The vaccine is manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India. India is currently administering the second dose of Covishield at 12-16 weeks gap. While more than 79% of the eligible adult population has received at least the first dose of a Covid vaccine, around 39% are fully vaccinated with two doses.
While there are around 12 crore people overdue for a second dose, a major reason for the slow progress of second-dose coverage is also the long gap between two jabs of Covishield, which constitutes the majority of vaccination.
As the majority of eligible population is now covered with the first dose of the vaccines and there is also adequate stock, some states, as well as public health experts, have written to the Centre asking it to reduce the gap so that people have increased protection with two doses of Covishield.
However, the government has maintained that any such decision will be driven by scientific recommendations from experts evaluating the same. Assessment of the sero-prevalence data also underlines no immediate requirement for booster dose, rather full vaccination is essential for long-lasting immunity, the source said.