Extending the gap between two doses of Covishield is a “reasonable approach," said White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with news agency ANI, Fauci said that “When you are in a very difficult situation, the way you are in India, you have to try and figure out ways to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as you can, so I believe that it is a reasonable approach to do.”
“You(India) have got to work out arrangements with countries and companies while ramping up your capability of making vaccines. India is one of the best if not the biggest vaccine producers. You’ve got to use some resources for your people,” he added.
This comes a day after the Indian government announced that the gap between the first and second doses of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine has been increased to 12-16 weeks from the existing six-eight weeks. This is for the second time in three months that Covishield dosage intervals have been widened. However, the government’s move has once again garnered criticism, as a cover-up for not having enough vaccines.
Claiming the ‘extended interval’ as beneficial, Dr Fauci said that, “When you don’t have enough vaccines, extending duration between 1st & 2nd dose to get more people to at least get 1st dose is a reasonable approach. Unlikely that long delay would have a negative effect on vaccine efficacy.”
“The fact that you delay it that long, it is very unlikely that it would have a negative effect on the efficacy of the vaccine. I would not refer to it as a cover-up when you don’t have enough vaccines," he added.
#WATCH When you don't have enough vaccines, extending duration b/w 1st & 2nd dose to get more people to at least get 1st dose is a reasonable approach. Unlikely that long delay would've negative effect on vaccine efficacy: Dr Anthony Fauci, top US infectious disease expert to ANI pic.twitter.com/25cO35jgR2— ANI (@ANI) May 14, 2021
Bolstering the vaccination drive, India is most likely to roll out Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the virus next week. With this, India will now have three vaccines for its public and to boost its mega vaccination drive which was recently opened for those above 18 years.
When asked about the efficacy of the Sputnik V Vaccine, “I’ve heard about the Sputnik, it seems to be quite efficacious, at a high level of close to 90 per cent or so, Dr Fauci responded. Last year, when the US was battling with the surge of Covid-19 cases, the Department of Defense docked two naval warships-USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort-on the coasts of New York and Los Angeles to step up the efforts in combating the virus.
Dr Fauci, one of Covid’s most trusted names, suggests that India should step up the role of the armed forces in combating the sudden surge in cases.
“You can use the military sometimes to get things done quickly that you otherwise in the private sector would not be able to, for example, I know that there’s a shortage of hospital beds right now that people who need to be in a hospital or not getting into a hospital because of the shortage of the beds, you can get the military to put up field hospitals, the same way they would during time of war, that could serve as a substitute for the classic hospital." Dr Fauci told ANI.
Responding on resuming travel to India amid rising cases of the viral infection, Dr Fauci said, “It really is going to depend on the level of infection right now. India has a very very high level of infection. And that would mean that it would be very difficult to resume travel there right now."
As more people around the world become vaccinated and the summer travel season is approaching, countries around the world are scrambling to get digital health certification programs or Vaccine passports in place.