Tuesday Jun 22, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has revised the guidelines for two-dose Chinese vaccines, increasing the gap between the doses to six weeks.
The two-dose SinoVac and Sinopharm vaccines were initially administered with a four-week gap which has now been increased to six weeks.
Commenting on the development, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told The News that plenty of Sinovac doses were available in the country, while more were coming.
When asked whether the change is to overcome the shortage, the SAPM said, “It would provide some flexibility in timing. Will help in some situations.”
Meanwhile, a senior official of the health ministry confided to the publication that shortage of vaccines was the main reason behind enhancing the gap between the two doses and claimed: "that instead of decreasing efficacy, a delayed second dose could provide immunity."
“The delayed second dose gives better immune response in general. China has successfully experienced that,” the official claimed.
The Sindh government, in a statement of clarification, later said that those citizens who had already received one dose of Sinopharm, will still get their second dose after the earlier set 21-day gap. Similarly, those having received one dose of Sinovac, will get their second dose after four weeks, as was the earlier practice.
The provincial health department said that the new rule, of a six-week gap, applies to those who will get inoculated for the first time today onwards.
Pakistan faced a shortage of vaccines last week and vaccination had to to be stopped in various cities till a fresh shipment of 1.5 million doses of Sinovac arrived Sunday.
Pakistan has reached an agreement with Pfizer-BioNTech for supplying 13 million doses of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine by the end of July 2021.
Similarly, Pakistan is also in the final stages of procuring 10 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V. Its shipment is likely to reach Pakistan by the end of the current month or the first week of July.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends administering two doses of Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines 3-4 weeks apart.
"If the administration of the second dose is delayed beyond 4 weeks, it should be given at the earliest possible opportunity."