6 minutes agoAuthor: Ravindra Bhajani
The Union Health Ministry has made a major change in the vaccination schedule of Kovishield. After increasing the gap of the second dose twice, it has now been reduced for people traveling abroad. That is, in some categories there is no need to wait for 84 days (12-16 weeks) for two doses. After 28 days (4-6 weeks) the second dose can be administered. The gap of two doses has been reduced for the Coveshield only. The gap between the two doses of Covaxin was 28 days. No changes have been made to it.
Who will take second dose of Coveshield in 28-42 days?
- This is the third change in Coveshield’s gap of two doses. When vaccination started on January 16, the gap of two doses between Coveshield and Covaxin was kept 28-42 days. But on 22 March, the difference of two doses of Coveshield was increased from 4-6 weeks to 6-8 weeks. Then on 13 May this gap was increased to 12-16 weeks.
- The new guideline is for those people who have had the first dose and have to go on international travel. They may have to travel for education, employment or as part of an Olympic team. Such people will not have to wait for 84 days for the second dose of Covishield. They can get the second dose done even before this.
Why was this change made to CoveShield’s dosing policy?
- This change has been made in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued for people traveling outside India. Actually, CoveShield has been developed jointly by Oxford University and British company AstraZeneca. It has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). In such a situation, people can travel safely outside India if two doses of it are applied. They will be less prone to infection. At the same time, they will also be protected from new rapidly spreading mutant virus strains.
- But this policy will not apply to everyone. If a person is going to go abroad within 84 days, then only then the second dose can be applied soon. Other people will not get this relief. They will have to wait for 84 days to take the second dose.
..so what is the use of keeping a gap of 12-16 weeks in two doses?
- On May 13, the government had increased the gap of two doses of CoveShield on the recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). This gap was increased from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks. The group said that more and more people would come under protection against Kovid by taking one dose.
- Some researchers and case studies have also supported this change. According to him, applying two doses of Coveshield at a gap of 12-16 weeks is more effective. Produces a high amount of antibody response. Clinical data found in India and abroad also supports this point.
Does increasing the gap improve immunity?
- According to a study published in the medical journal Lancet, the effectiveness and immune response gap of CoveShield increases with increasing. Researchers found that similar results are being found not only with CoviShield but also with some other vaccines.
- With a gap of 6 weeks or less between two doses, the effectiveness is reduced to 50-60%. At the same time, keeping a gap of 12-16 weeks, this effectiveness increases to 81.3%.
- Coveshield is being installed in many countries including UK, parts of Europe as well as Sri Lanka, Canada. Different countries have kept the gap separately from their convenience. The second dose is being administered in the UK and Canada with a gap of up to four months. The same policy has been adopted by India after May 13. In some places, the work of mixing and matching of different vaccines is being done. Studies are being done on its possibilities and benefits.
What if the second dose is not given?
- It may also happen that a person may not get the second dose of Coveshield in time. What will happen then? Those who have experienced more problems after taking the first dose, they are also being advised to take the second dose late.
- In such a situation, that person will be considered partially vaccinated. He will have to follow the instructions related to quarantine and testing at the international level. However, new studies have revealed that the first dose of CovaShield produces a stronger antibody response than Covaxin. In this way, even after partial vaccination, some level of protection is available.
- However, it is necessary to take both doses. Whenever possible, a second dose must be administered. So that you can get the benefits of being fully vaccinated.
What problems may arise for those who have Covaxin when traveling abroad?
- Covaxin has not yet been approved by the WHO. For this reason it has not yet been recognized internationally. In such a situation, those who have got the first dose of Covaxin, they will get the second dose only after 28 days. They will not be considered vaccinated if they travel abroad. That is, they will have to spend a mandatory quarantine period. Also, if a country has implemented a testing policy, then they will have to get tested under it.
- There’s no need to panic. Bharat Biotech, which is making covaccine, has intensified efforts to get the vaccine approved by WHO. The company has also said that it is preparing for the fourth phase to collect additional data. Covaxin has proved to be 78% effective in the third phase trials.
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