The Kerala High Court on Friday held that the second dose of the Covishield vaccine cannot be administered before the 84-day interval mandated by the Centre, Bar and Bench reported.

The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly set aside an order passed by a single-judge bench that allowed an individual to opt for a four-week interval between two shots.

In September, the Centre had challenged the earlier verdict passed by Justice PB Suresh Kumar. In hi order, the judge had observed said that the since the vaccination was voluntary, the time gap mentioned by the government could only be considered as advice.

The Centre, however, had contended that the decision amounted to the court interfering with policy decisions taken by the government.

At Friday’s hearing, the larger bench noted that the Centre’s decision on the time gap between two doses of Covishield was based on expert opinion.

“...Such expert advice, on the basis of scientific study, cannot possibly be substituted by a judgment of constitutional courts, especially when no materials are produced before the court to show that the expert and scientific advises given to the government are hasty, bad or ill-advised,” the High Court said, according to Bar and Bench.

The petition

The High Court’s order in September was passed on a petition filed by private firm Kitex Garments Limited. The company’s officials wanted to administer second doses of the vaccine to its employees before the 84-day gap.

In the petition, the company had said that it had arranged for the second doses which it could not use before the stipulated period.

The Centre had opposed the plea saying that the 84-day gap between two doses was mandated to increase the vaccine’s efficacy. The Centre also said that its decision was based on inputs provided by the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group.

The single-judge bench had observed that the 84-day gap was discriminatory as the government was allowing people travelling abroad to take the second dose after a four-week interval.