Dr Fauci: Extended Gap Between Covishield Doses In India ‘Reasonable Approach’

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Dr Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top medical adviser on Thursday said, dramatically ramping up COVID-19 vaccination drive is key to ending the crisis in India and extending the gap between two doses of Covishield is a “reasonable approach”.

“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,” Fauci said. On Thursday, the Government of India 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 6-8 weeks. This is for the second time in three months that Covishield dosage intervals have been widened and this move has once again garnered criticism, as a cover-up for not having enough vaccines for the people in India. However, Dr Fauci said that this “extended interval” is beneficial even from the efficacy standpoint.

“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,” Fauci told ANI.

India is most likely to roll out Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus to be administered to citizens starting next week. With this, India will now have three vaccines 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, is that, it seems to be quite efficacious, at a high level of close to 90 per cent or so,” Fauci responded.

Also Read : Health Ministry Accepts Govt Panel Recommendation Of 12-16 Week Gap Between Covishield Doses

He further said, that it is imperative for India to collaborate with other countries, and companies to ramp up its vaccine production capability to vaccinate country’s huge population against COVID-19.

Calling India as one of the best vaccine producer in the world, the leading American infectious disease expert said,”It’s a very very large country with a population of about 1.4 billion people, you only have a couple of percentage of the people who are fully vaccinated and over about 10 per cent or so that have at least one dose so you’ve got to work out arrangements with other countries, other companies at the same time as ramping up your own capability of making vaccines because as we all know, India is one of the best if not the biggest vaccine producer in the world.”

As several countries have announced support for India’s response to a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections that has hit healthcare facilities across the country, Dr Fauci told ANI in an exclusive interview: “There was the immediate issue that needs to be addressed as taking care of the people that are already infected. Getting better supplies of oxygen, oxygen cylinders, oxygen generators, PPEs, therapies like Remdesivir and things like that; the things that the US has helped with, but then probably in the intermediate and long run, you’ve got to figure out a way how to get as many vaccinations, administered to the people of India as possible.”

Noting that the B.1.617 mutant first detected in India has been found in over 40 countries including the US, he said, “in the ongoing crisis, the rich countries have a moral responsibility to assist those countries that don’t have the capability of doing that, particularly the low and middle-income countries.”

Also Read : Know What Is In Your Vaccine Before You Take The Jab: Covaxin VS. Covishield VS. Sputnik V

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 COVID-19.

“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.” Fauci told ANI.

While replying to a query on resuming travel to India amid the pandemic, 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 very difficult to resume travel there right now.”

(With ANI Inputs)

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