The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) hinted at the government’s plans to rethink the gap interval between the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered in India as COVISHIELD. The decision was put into light by NK Arora, Chairperson, NTAGI.
India is mainly administering two vaccines – COVAXIN and COVISHIELD – out of which the gap interval between doses for COVAXIN remained unchanged. However, based on the reports by the UK administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government announced the decision to increase the gaps from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks on May 13. Now the members of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization are thinking of reducing it back from 12-16 weeks to 8-12 weeks.
NK Arora said that since there was no dissent regarding the decision being taken based on the UK report, the decision was considered unison. A new study by PGI Chandigarh compared the effectiveness of partial versus full administration. They found that the vaccine effectiveness was similar – 75 percent – though, in the short term. The study was conducted based on the variant ‘Alpha’ that swept the areas in North India, Punjab, and New Delhi. Another study from CMC Vellore, Tamil Nadu, also echoed the same information. They found out that COVISHIELD’s first dose showcases 61% efficacy, and the second dose showcases 65% efficacy. The difference is tiny, and therefore administering a single dose was also being considered.
NK Arora described the vaccine and the ongoing research as “very dynamic” in nature. The emerging evidence calls for several reforms in the administration strategy. The issue at large here is this, while the UK rolled out their report based on the real-world data in their country. On the other hand, India has no real-world data as such. Data is the eyes of any policy. It is almost impossible to fight a battle without vision.