The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to state whether the 84-day gap between two Covishield doses was on account of efficacy or availability of the vaccines, Live Law reported.

The said this while hearing a petition by a company named Kitex Garments Ltd, which sought permission to administer the second Covishield dose to its employees before the completion of 84 days from the first dose.

The Union health ministry on May 13 increased the gap between two doses of Astrazeneca’s Covishield vaccine to 12 weeks to 16 weeks from the earlier gap of six to eight weeks. The gap was increased on the basis of a recommendation by a seven-member Covid-19 working group.

On the other hand, the gap prescribed between two doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is four to six weeks.

The High Court on Tuesday observed that if the gap between two Covishield doses was due to availability, then people willing to pay for the shots should be able to get their second doses before the completion of the prescribed gap, The Hindu reported.

Justice PB Suresh Kumar said that a large number of people who were ready to pay for the vaccines were awaiting the completion of 84 days.

The judge remarked that if efficacy was the reason for the time interval, then he was “worried”, because he took the second dose within four weeks to six weeks of the first one, PTI reported. He then added that if efficacy was the reason for the policy, then the government should provide scientific data in support of it.

During the hearing, the Kerala government told the court that it was following the Centre’s vaccination policy, and unless the Union government changed it, the state could not allow any narrowing of the gap.

The central government’s lawyer sought time to take instructions on the matter. The court has adjourned the matter till Thursday.

Covid-19 vaccination in India

India has approved six vaccines for emergency use so far – Covishield, Covaxin, Russia’s Sputnik V, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D.

ZyCov-D is also the first Covid-19 vaccine that can be administered to children above 12 years of age.

Covishield, which is produced by the Serum Institute of India, was first rolled out when the countrywide Covid-19 inoculation drive began on January 16.

India’s Covid vaccination programme has suffered hiccups due to vaccine shortages. Last month, the state governments in Delhi and Odisha announced that several vaccination centres had to remain shut due to the non-availability of Covishield vaccines.

The Centre has said that more than 3.86 crore people have not been administered the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine within the stipulated time, according to a PTI report on August 19.

Till August 25, India has administered 59,55,04,593 Covid-19 vaccine doses in all. In the past 24 hours, 61,90,930 people received coronavirus vaccines, as per the Centre’s data.