India likely to reduce gap between 2nd Covid vaccine shot, booster dose for those flying abroad
India may reduce the gap between the second Covid-19 vaccine shot and the precautionary third dose from nine to six months for citizens who are scheduled to travel abroad, especially to countries that have made it compulsory for travelers to produce their booster certificates.
The matter was discussed by the government’s expert panel that is currently dealing with several issues related to booster doses, the Hindustan Times reported.
According to the advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the gap between the date of administering the second dose of vaccine and the precaution dose would be nine months (39 weeks).
The government later revised the guidelines for officials on election duty. They can now be vaccinated 90 days (equivalent to three months) after their second dose.
“The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is looking at data to see if it is good to reduce the gap from existing nine months. They might prioritise those who urgently need a booster for the purpose of travel as many countries have made it a requirement for travel. However, ultimate decision will be based on what the opinion is of experts on the technical panel,” the HT anonymously quoted a senior government functionary who is privy to the matter.
Among the issues discussed during NTAGI’s Wednesday meeting include reduction of the gap between the second shot and booster doses, and expanding the vaccine drive to children below the age of 11 years.
However, the panel has not yet arrived at a decision on both the matters, the HT reported.
“It has been seen that some of the vaccine derived protection is recovered by boosting,” Anurag Agrawal, former director, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), told the publication.
Back in February, the Serum Institute of India, which collaborated with Oxford and AstraZeneca to manufacture the Covishield vaccine, had asked the government to reduce the gap between the second vaccine dose and the third precautionary dose, or booster dose, to three months.
Prakash Kumar Singh, diretor, Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII, argued that the third dose is being administered within six months in various countries and it is giving very good results to control the infection. Singh had also mentioned that private companies, educational institutions, social organisations, central government organisations as well as public undertaking companies are continuously requesting the firm for the third dose of Covishield for their staff members and families.
In a letter written to health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Singh said that the administration of the third dose of Covishield will be allowed after the completion of 3 months in line with revised guidelines of GoI for the officials and staff deployed on election duty.
“Sir, it is the need of the hour and in the interest of the public at large… This will help to control unpredictable and fast spread of various strains of Covid-19 which is disrupting the economy and social stability of our country,” Singh said in the letter.