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NTAGI suggests increasing dosage interval of Covishield to 12-16 weeks

Currently, India is facing an acute nationwide shortage of the Covishield vaccine and Serum Institute is struggling to keep up with demand.

May 13, 2021 / 12:35 PM IST
A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

According to the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine needs to be increased from 12 weeks to 16 weeks.

Currently the interval between the two doses of Covishield vaccine is between four to eight weeks. This is the second time an interval increase has been suggested.

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In March, the government recommended that states increase the gap between the two doses from the initial 28 days to 6-8 weeks. This would help with better results.

Currently, India is facing an acute nationwide shortage of the Covishield vaccine and Serum Institute of India (SII) is struggling to keep up with demand.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Also Read | Govt panel recommends those testing positive to wait six months after recovery for vaccine

Apart from this, NTAGI has also suggested that pregnant will be offered to choose any COVID-19 vaccine while lactating women can avail of the vaccine any time after delivery.

The panel has not suggested any change in the interval between two Covaxin doses.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Moneycontrol News
first published: May 13, 2021 12:09 pm

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