Covid-19 dose gap can be reviewed based on expert advice: V K Paul

The government has asked people not to panic over the perceived need for an immediate change in the Covishield vaccine dosage interval, adding that the national technical advisory group on immunisation (NTAGI) would review the matter based on the pandemic scenario and the prevalence of delta variant in India. Some reports recently have suggested that the gap between the two Covishield doses should be kept at eight weeks instead of prevalent 12 weeks. V K Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog, said the NTAGI would take a comprehensive view and decide on the matter. Addressing a press briefing, Paul said: “Whichever decision is taken by our scientific community, we will honour it.” He said there is a need for this debate and discourse in the public domain. “However, the decision has to be taken by appropriate fora comprising eminent people who are knowledgeable.” The UK must have adopted due process and examined data scientifically, to revise their previous decision regarding the gap, he said. The UK had earlier maintained a 12-week gap, “but according to data available to us, we did not consider it safe at that point,” he added. Paul said that when it was decided to increase the Covishield dose interval to 12 weeks, the government had to consider the risk posed by the virus to those who have received only one dose. chart But the counterpoint was that more people will then be able to get the first dose, thereby giving a reasonable degree of immunity to them. “We need to balance these concerns,” Paul said. On whether people who have Covid should not take the vaccine, Paul said that there was no hardcore ideological position in science and decisions were taken through institutional mechanisms. “It is a dynamic process. If more data comes, our technical group will consider it,” Paul said. India’s second wave of Covid-19 is now stabilising with around 91,000 new cases registered on Friday, and the overall positivity rate is down to 5.6 per cent in the last week. This is down by 74 per cent from the peak level of 21.6 per cent during April 30-May 7 week. Weekly positivity is less than 5 per cent in 15 states.

Only 196 districts are reporting more than 100 daily cases in the country as of last week, compared to 531 districts during the week ending May 4. data shows a decline of almost 78 per cent in daily new cases since the highest reported peak on May 6 when the figure crossed 414,000.

ICMR sero-survey this month The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will start a national sero-survey this month to assess the spread and intensity of Covid-19 infections in the country, V K Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog, said on Friday. “We are prepared to do it now. It is not a long process and it is time to start sero-surveys now. States should be encouraged to conduct these surveys because decisions have to take place at state and district level; closer to hotspots,” Paul said. This would be the fourth national sero-survey that will be conducted by the ICMR. Paul said that states have to keep an eye on mutations and correlate with clinical data. The last sero-survey, carried out between December 17 and January 8, showed that 21.5 per cent of India’s population had been exposed to Covid-19. It also showed that 25 per cent of those in the 10-17 years age bracket were exposed to the virus.

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