Vijnana Bharati, the elite science and technology wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has welcomed the government’s decision to increase the interval between two doses of Covishield from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks. It has also urged the government to undertake a study for Covaxin vaccine as well.
In light of the recent scarcity of life-saving drugs to treat critical COVID-19 cases and to meet the massive increase in demand, Vijnana Bharati further urged the government to consider buying essential drugs in bulk from manufacturers.
“COVID-19 is of recent origin, and our knowledge about this virus is also evolving with time. Naturally, various protocols in the case of prophylaxis, treatment including vaccination, and post COVID-19 care are bound to be refined and revised based on our evolving knowledge of the disease and its treatment,” Vijnana Bharati said in a statement.
Indian Council for Medical Research head Dr Balram Bhargava justified the 4-week gap between two Covaxin does by saying that immunity after the first shot is not as high as in other vaccines.
Vijnana Bharati has come up with the following suggestions in the fight against COVID-19:
* Higher efficacy was observed with an increased interval of 12 weeks between the first and the second dose of Covishield in India at 81.3%. Accordingly, the COVID Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and subsequently the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration on COVID-19 (NEGVAC) recommended a revision in the interval of administration of the second dose of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks instead of the earlier 6-8 weeks on 12 May. Vijnana Bharati welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to accept this recommendation. It also requests the authorities to undertake similar studies for Covaxin too.
* Availability of life-saving drugs for critical cases of COVID-19 is of immediate concern. India has been able to increase production significantly. However, to meet the massive increase in the requirement, to hedge the uncertainty in the quantum of requirement, and to incentivise enhanced production, we request the government to consider buying the production of essential drugs in bulk from the manufacturers. It will also ensure assured consumption for the manufacturers.
* The regulatory framework in case of many of these drugs needs to be relooked to achieve maximum possible shelf-life without compromising any drug safety parameter.
* There is a need to empower regulatory bodies, which were developed in the context of normal times, through objective and necessary modifications in the relevant guidelines.
* Technologies for liquefaction, transportation, and repressurizing oxygen (O2 ) to the grassroots levels like PHCs, etc should be evaluated, and generalised as much as possible since transportation and storage of O2 is a more limiting factor in last-mile delivery today than O2 production.
* Real-time accuracy in data will form the basis of our response to COVID-19 in the coming days. Given the skepticism raised from many quarters, we need to emphasise the accuracy of all data concerning COVID-19. It will be the most vital aspect in our efforts to initially flatten the COVID-19 curve and eventually bring it to a minimum.
* Ayush Ministry has done a commendable job by bringing out protocols backed by clinical trials in prophylaxis as well as in the treatment of mild and moderate cases. The polyherbal formulation Ayush 64 repurposed for COVID-19 is also a significant development. As of today, the subgroup of the population that is younger than 18 years of age does not have a tested vaccine against COVID. We need to undertake a campaign of Ayurvedic practices among this group and reach out to every child to insulate them from the infection as far as possible and treat them whenever necessary.
* Yoga practice needs encouragement to fight against the virus.
* The enormous stress being handled by our paramedic staff calls for urgent attention. Increasing the availability of paramedic personnel on similar lines like the medical staff is necessary. E-consultations have been quite effective in many cases, and such facilities may be enhanced and encouraged.
* Use of the technology in the management of COVID-19, including COWIN portal and app, has been quite significant. This can be expanded in the future to encompass medical facilities to ensure optimum utilisation.