The Centre has filed an appeal against an order by a single-judge bench of the Kerala High Court directing that people who pay for Covishield vaccines should be allowed to get their second dose before the mandatory 84-day interval, Bar and Bench reported on Wednesday.
A division bench of the High Court will hear the appeal.
On September 6, Justice PB Suresh Kumar of Kerala High Court had held that the second dose of Covishield vaccine should be allowed four weeks after the first one. The judge said that the fact that vaccination is voluntary indicated that the time gap mentioned by the government could only be considered as advisory in nature.
The court had also directed the Centre to make changes in the CoWIN portal so as to allow scheduling of the second dose of the Covishield vaccines after four weeks.
In its appeal before the division bench, the Centre has contended that the decision amounts to the court interfering with policy decisions taken by the government.
“The judgment would militate against the settled position that in matters related to government supported by scientific study, the Court shall not meddle with or substitute its view with the view of the administration,” the plea said.
It also stated that if the second dose is allowed before the 84-day gap, the decision would cause “serious prejudice for the larger segment [of the population]”.
Earlier, On August 24, Justice Kumar had asked the Centre to state whether the 84-day gap was on account of efficacy or availability of the vaccines.
The judge had also 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. He added that the government should provide scientific data to prove that the interval was required for greater efficacy.
On August 26, the Centre told the court that the gap was prescribed on account of efficacy. It stated that the gap was increased based on a recommendation by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 for better protection against the disease.
The Union health ministry on May 13 increased the gap between two doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca’s Covishield vaccine to 12 weeks to 16 weeks from the earlier gap of six to eight weeks.