As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, India is looking to vaccinate its entire adult population by the end of 2021. With several 2-dose vaccines approved for emergency usage, this would mean that all individuals above the age of 18 are likely to receive their jabs over the next few months. But does India need to begin preparations for administering booster shots?
In recent days, several countries including the UK, Germany and the UAE have announced plans to provide residents with booster shots, depending on their age and comorbidities as well as the vaccine they had initially taken.
On Monday, German state health ministers announced that they would begin offering booster shots for especially vulnerable groups in September. All individuals who got vaccinated with the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson shots could get a refresher shot with an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna from September.
According to a report by The Telegraph, Britain will offer booster shots to 32 million people from the beginning of next month. With the campaign possibly starting as early as September 6, the report indicated that the idea was to finish the rollout by early December. Officials plan to administer the booster dose to adults aged over 50 years and all immunosuppressed patients.
Israel also recently announced a similar plan of action for people above 60. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates had announced in April that it will offer an additional shot to those who had been injected with China's Sinophar, vaccine six months after their initial two doses. Other nations that are offering booster shots include Cambodia, Russia and France.
In India, while there is no official plan for a third dose thus far, experts suggest that it may soon become necessary. Towards the end of July, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria had spoken about the need for a booster dose with second-generation COVID-19 vaccines.
"It seems that we probably need the booster dose of vaccines as with the passage of time the immunity tends to fall. There is waning immunity. We would like to have booster dose that will cover for various emerging variants," he said. A second-generation vaccine, he explained, would be better in terms of immunity and cover new variants, thus providing better overall efficacy.
"Trials of booster vaccine shots are already going on. You will probably need a booster dose till the end of this year. But that's only once the population is vaccinated, then the next step will be to administer a booster dose," Dr Guleria had said.
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