- Government may soon reconsider its policy regarding booster dose of corona vaccine
- Experts against booster dose for all, doubts about its benefits
- At present, healthcare, frontline workers and people above 60 years are getting the third dose.
A senior official told the Times of India that healthcare workers and people above 60 years of age (above 60 years with co-morbidities) already suffering from any other serious illness will continue with the third dose under the existing vaccination policy.
The official said, ‘The boosters have to be reconsidered. The policy has to be changed very carefully. In all the countries where the third dose was administered, it did not appear to be beneficial. Apart from this, we cannot blindly follow the path of any country that it has done so. We have to listen to our local epidemiologists, listen to the science and our decisions will be based on evaluation.
A high-level meeting was held on Tuesday between the National Technical Advisory Group (NTAGI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for vaccination, in which the booster dose was discussed in detail.
According to the official, experts from WHO and NTAGI evaluated the data of countries applying booster doses. Apart from this, local data is also being studied. Experts are reviewing the pattern of infection, behavior of the virus, emerging variants, re-infection of previously infected people.
The World Health Organization may soon issue an advisory regarding booster doses.
Talking about India, since January 10, 86.87 lakh people have taken ‘precaution dose’. According to the Ministry of Health, about 30 million healthcare workers and frontline workers in the country have to get a booster shot. Apart from this, the number of people above 60 years of age with co-morbidities in the country is 2.75 crore.
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Some out-of-country studies suggest that booster doses provide strong protection against the coronavirus. There are also some studies whose preliminary results show that there is a decline in antibodies within a few weeks of the third dose.
Officials said, ‘The need of the hour is to develop a vaccine that not only prevents serious disease from infection, but also prevents the spread of infection so that we can avoid community transmission.’
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India is slow about the third dose. The government has been consistently saying that such decisions will be based on scientific evidence. The decision to introduce a booster dose was taken in view of the tremendous spurt in the cases of Omicron in the country.
The country has not yet decided whether to open the booster dose to other age-groups or not, but the US has approved booster doses for adolescents as well. However, many experts agree that the booster shot may not be a long-lasting strategy. Experts from the World Health Organization have already warned that repeated administration of booster doses of the original corona vaccine is not an effective strategy against newly emerging variants.