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Amid Short Supplies, Vaccine Doses Can Be Six Weeks Apart, Says WHO

In the recommendations, WHO said that countries seeking to extend the interval between two doses should make sure that vaccinated patients can still have access to a second dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus

Amid Short Supplies, Vaccine Doses Can Be Six Weeks Apart, Says WHO
Highlights
  • Symptomatic COVID reinfection within 6 months of first one is rare: WHO
  • There is currently no evidence on the need for a booster dose: WHO
  • Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is to be administered in 2 doses

Geneva: World Health Organisation (WHO) experts on Friday (January 8) issued recommendations that the interval between administration of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus can be extended to up to six weeks. WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunisation, known as SAGE, formally published its advice after a full review of that vaccine, which is the first to get emergency approval from the UN health agency to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also Read: Cutting COVID-19 Infectious Period Even By One Day Could Prevent Millions Of Cases, Study Says

It said an interval of 21 to 28 days between the doses is recommended. But the UN health agency also noted that “a number of countries face exceptional circumstances of vaccine supply constraints combined with a high disease burden,” and said some have been considering delaying the administration of a second dose as a way to broaden initial coverage. The agency said this “pragmatic approach” could be considered as a response to “exceptional epidemiological circumstances.”

WHO’s recommendation at present is that the interval between doses may be extended up to 42 days (6 weeks), on the basis of currently available clinical trial data. Should additional data become available on longer intervals between doses, revision of this recommendation will be considered, it said.

Hard-hit Britain, for example, has decided to delay for as much as 12 weeks — and data from that expansion could help contribute to possible revisions in the WHO recommendation, said WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris. In the recommendations, WHO added that countries seeking to extend the interval should make sure that vaccinated patients can still have access to a second dose. The agency also said it also does not recommend COVID-19 vaccination of travelers unless they face high risks or qualify as priority cases.

WHO also said symptomatic reinfection by the coronavirus within six months of a first infection is “rare,” so people who have had the illness within the previous six months “may delay vaccination until near the end of this period.” WHO said there was currently no evidence on the need for a booster dose, and said there was no data available on the interchangeability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with other COVID-19 vaccines. It also cited a lack of evidence about whether vaccination reduces the risk of transmission of the virus to other people.

Also Read: India Will Be Able To Vaccinate Entire Population Against COVID-19 Soon, Says Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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