India's vaccine effort slows as dose gap trumps output jump - (Fidelity via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Health ministry data on Monday showed that India's vaccination campaign has slowed despite the country amassing record stockpiles of COVID-19 vaccine, as authorities maintain a wider-than-usual gap between doses in a strategy that has boosted coverage, as reported by Fidelity.

  • Domestic production of the AstraZeneca vaccine has more than tripled since May, when a supply shortage prompted the country to double the period between doses to between 12 and 16 weeks.

  • The gap, exceeding the 8 to 12 weeks recommended by the World Health Organization, has allowed India to give at least one dose to 74% of its 944 million adults, with only 30% getting two doses.

  • Health ministry figures show that over the last few days, daily stocks of all COVID-19 vaccines have exceeded 100 million doses. However, daily vaccinations have dropped to an average of 5 million doses this month and less in the past week, off a daily peak of 25 million last month.

  • "NTAGI is actively considering the matter of dose interval between Covishield doses," its spokesperson said, referring to the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).

  • However, vaccine supply alone should not determine the gap, said Chandrakant Lahariya, an epidemiologist in New Delhi. "There is no scientific rationale for reducing the gap," he added. "In fact, retaining this gap has the possibility of giving stronger protection and longer-lasting immunity."

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