Amid cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus being reported in India, the calls for a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine has started growing.
Several countries, including Germany, Austria, Canada and France, have already started administering booster shots to their population. Meanwhile, in India, the first priority is to complete the task of vaccinating all adults with both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
"Scientific reasoning for providing boosters at what timing, for which vaccine, all that is under examination. Currently, let's be very clear, our priority is very clear - complete the task of vaccinating all adults with both doses," news agency ANI recently quoted Dr VK Paul as saying.
Randeep Guleria, the director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, has said that a booster dose for COVID-19 is not required in the country right now. “There is no surge of COVID-19 cases as of now,” the ANI news agency quoted Guleria as saying. “So, there is no need for a booster dose in India for now," he added.
After recommending booster dose for 40+, INSACOG says more experiments needed
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) in its recent weekly bulletin has said that many more scientific experiments are needed to assess the impacts of booster dose, which are being guided and monitored by National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) and National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).
However, in its previous weekly bulletin dated on November 29, INSACOG has recommended a booster dose for those 40 years of age and over, first targeting the most high-risk / high-exposure "may be considered".
Clarifying on the need of booster dose amid Omicron looming threat, the top genome sequencing body INSACOG has said that the mention of the booster dose was merely a "discussion about the potential role of additional dose of Covid-19 vaccines in high-risk populations" and the recommendation was not for the India's immunisation programme.
"Immunity and protection from SARS-CoV-2 is multifactorial with several unknown factors and further compounded by emerging VOCs. Many more scientific experiments are needed to assess the impacts of booster dose, which are being guided and monitored by National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19", said INSACOG.
IMA urges govt to announce 'additional' Covid vaccine doses for healthcare, frontline workers
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) urged the government to announce "additional" doses of Covid vaccine for healthcare, frontline workers and immunocompromised individuals amid concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
It also demanded that the government expedite the proposal of vaccinating individuals aged 12 to 18 years.
At a press conference, the doctors' body said that cases of the latest variant of coronavirus were reported from a number of major states of India and the tally, which is in the double digits, is bound to increase. With the scientific evidence available and the experience noted in countries of origin, it is evident that the Omicron variant will have high penetrability and will affect more people, the IMA claimed.
"At a time when India is limbing back to normalcy, this is a great setback. If we do not take adequate measures, we may have a massive third wave," it said.
Consider COVID-19 booster dose for healthcare workers: Rajesh Tope
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope recently met Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in Delhi and requested him to consider giving a booster dose to healthcare workers.
Decision needed at national level on booster dose, says Ajit Pawar
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said there is a need to take a decision at the national level on whether a booster dose of the vaccine is required to curb the pandemic.
"Is booster dose required then? We have doses available today. There is a need to take a decision at the national level in this regard I think. There are different opinions about it. So, it should be told why it needs to be given or why it shouldn't. Only experts who have researched it (the infection) can talk about it," Pawar said.
We might need to vaccinate everybody with booster dose: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that we might need to vaccinate everybody again with a booster dose. The Wayanad MP also said the Centre needs to "think clearly" about the vaccine strategy.
"Imp that we think clearly about vaccine strategy, what I'm hearing is current vaccines aren't necessarily working with this variant. We've to be careful on how we're vaccinating & get ready to accept that we might've to vaccinate everybody again with new booster," news agency ANI quoted Gandhi as saying.
(With inputs from agencies)
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