By Shalini Bhardwaj
New Delhi [India], June 16 (ANI): Chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) on Wednesday refuted reports that there was dissent among experts within the scientific group about extending the intervals between the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine Covishield to 12 to 16 weeks and that the Centre had taken the decision to do so without their agreement.
"No dissent among NTAGI members regarding the decision. India has a robust mechanism to look at other ongoing scientific evidence," Dr N K Arora, chairman of NTAGI told ANI.
Dr Arora further emphasised, "Decisions are taken scientifically, giving paramount importance to health and protection of the community."
He had also said that decision was based on "fundamental scientific reasons".
Meanwhile, speaking to ANI, Dr Mathew Varghese, member of NTAGI and former Director of St Stephen's Hospital, Delhi, said that they do not disclose the decisions of the committee.
"We do not disclose anything that we discuss in the committee and I am very clear in that. We sign confidentiality agreement we do not discuss," he said.
Dr Varghese further clarified, "Whatever evidence is shown in the paper or the manufacturers and the researchers show as evidence, we go by that if it seems convincing."
Asked about the scientific evidence behind increasing the gap between Covishield vaccine doses from 4-6 weeks, to 12-16 weeks, Dr Varghese said, "I have not looked up the last two week's papers. The evidence was till 12 weeks, and that is what government recommended. I have to study first before making any comments."
Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, who is a core member of NTAGI and a noted epidemiologist, told ANI: "It sounds strange there is no controversy, all of us agreed on increasing the duration between the first and second dose."
"Every member speaks, somebody says make it six months and somebody says make it three months or two months. It is a Zoom meeting, we give technical advice in terms of safety , advantages and disadvantages due to increasing the gap all these things we give." Muliyil said.
ANI reached out but did not receive any response from Dr MD Gupte, member of NTAGI and former director of the state-run National Institute of Epidemiology about increasing the vaccine dosage interval to 12-16 weeks.
The union ministry of health had on May 13 announced the decision to change the gap from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks. (ANI)