‘Booster dose of anti-Covid vax not needed at this stage’

New Delhi, Sep 18: As the global debate on booster shots gathers momentum, several scientists in New Delhi said the priority must be to ensure that more people are inoculated with at least their first jab.
Immunologist Satyajit Rath said that less than 15 per cent of Indian adults have been vaccinated with two doses, and this clearly means that all Indians ‘who are more vulnerable to infection’ have not yet necessarily gotten two doses.
“I, therefore, think that it is ethically premature to begin planning a third dose to a fortunate category of people at this stage,” Rath, from New Delhi’s National Institute of Immunology (NII), told PTI.
“It is also pragmatically premature to do so, since we have no really clear idea of who is ‘more vulnerable to infection’. We do know that some co-morbid categories are more vulnerable to serious illness, but two doses of the current vaccines currently protect quite well against that,” he explained.
Immunologist Vineeta Bal agreed, saying India should not think of providing booster doses at this stage when about 40 per cent of the eligible population is yet to receive the first dose. In her view, vulnerable people, those with co-morbidities, may be considered for additional shots on a ‘case by case basis’.
“… but it has to be remembered that additional shots do not cover specific variants, which are supposed to be more ‘dangerous’,” Bal, guest faculty at Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, told PTI.
“Hence the utility of an additional shot will be limited, in terms of expanding immunity,” she argued.
Though India has not yet rolled out the third dose, there are reports some healthcare workers and politicians in Mumbai have taken a booster shot.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said earlier this week that a booster dose is not the central theme at the moment and getting two doses remains the major priority.
On Friday, India administered a record over 2.5 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses, taking the cumulative number of doses administered in the country to 79.33 crore, according to data on the Co-WIN portal.

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