India to allow smaller gap between AstraZeneca COVID vaccine doses sold privately – sources
By Neha Arora and Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India will likely allow a smaller gap between AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses for inoculations performed privately, pursuant to a court order, two sources told Reuters.
Private hospitals and clinics will give their paying patients the option of receiving their second dose of the vaccine four weeks after the first, up from 12 to 16 weeks currently, they said.
Earlier this month, the high court in the southern state of Kerala ordered changes https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/indian-court-backs-shorter-dose-gap-those -paying-astrazeneca-vaccine -2021-09-07 in the vaccine reservation platform of the Ministry of Health to give people paying for a vaccination this choice, which is already offered to those traveling abroad.
“Since the high court has rendered a judgment, it will have to be done,” said one of the sources. “For the government program, the ideal gap remains 12 weeks.
India doubled the gap between the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in May to ensure more people received at least one dose when supplies were scarce at the height of the country’s outbreak this year.
AstraZeneca recommends that the second dose of its COVID-19 vaccine be taken four weeks after the first injection, but indicates on its website that there is a “trend towards increased effectiveness with a dosing interval greater than 4 weeks”. The World Health Organization recommends an interval of eight to 12 weeks.
The sources, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media, could not say when the changes will be implemented.
The Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Total vaccine production in India has tripled since May to reach 300 million doses per month. Less than a quarter of the production is sold by private hospitals while the rest is provided free of charge by the government.
India has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 65% of its 944 million adults and two doses to 22% of adults.
(Reporting by Neha Arora and Krishna N. Das; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)