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Maharashtra govt wants Covishield dose gap cut to 28 from 84 days

10:32 PM Nov 16, 2021 | Sanjay Jog

Mumbai: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has asked Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to reduce the current 84 days’ gap between two doses of Covishield to 28, “to speed up the vaccination process”. Tope met Mandaviya on Tuesday in New Delhi.

“The speed of vaccination can be accelerated by reducing the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine. The Union ministry needs to consider this suggestion,”Tope suggested.

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Tope’s request comes on the heels of the state government’s aim to have inoculated all of its 9.14 crore eligible adults with at least one dose by November 30. In order to attain this ambitious target, another 2.18 crore-plus people must be administered their first dose by this date. So far, 6.96 crore people have received their first dose in the state, while recently, the milestone of three crores being fully vaccinated (first and second doses) was crossed.

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Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had recently directed the district collectors to chase this target especially after the government realised vaccine hesitancy had gained hold, with people seeing no need for it, saying the pandemic was over.

Tope’s plea was based on the unanimous recommendation made by the Maharashtra TaskForce on Covid-19, headed by Dr Sanjay Oak, to reduce the duration between two doses of Covishield vaccine. The taskforce has argued that a reduction in the gap between two doses will help vaccinate more people.

A public health department official told The Free Press Journal, “The state government had raised this demand during the virtual meeting convened by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month. Thereafter, public health minister Rajesh Tope reiterated the state government’s demand three days ago at the virtual meeting chaired by the Union health minister. The Centre has not conveyed its intention yet but has said it is weighing the scientific evidence and practical issues before taking any decision on reduction in the duration of two doses of Covidshield vaccine.”

Tope also urged Mandaviya to consider the proposal for a booster dose to healthcare workers preparatory to readying for the probable third wave of the pandemic. He also called upon the union health minister to roll out vaccination for children under the age of 18 years “as early as possible”.

He requested approval on the budget allocation for human resources in the supplementary programme implementation plan (PIP) under the National Health Mission. He also sought approval on the revised proposal for the setting up of Cath Labs under the supplementary PIP of the NHM, which had been previously disapproved under PIP.

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