Will a booster shot provide the turbocharge for Covid immunity that India is looking for currently?
This is a question that is being really talked about currently which is valid too as experts say maybe in an ideal situation where most people are fully vaccinated but not when less than a quarter of the adult population has received both doses.
As the global debate on booster shots gathers momentum, according to several scientists the priority must be to ensure that more people are inoculated with at least their first shot.
Immunologist Satyajit Rath said that but 15 per cent of Indian adults are vaccinated with two doses, and this clearly means all Indians who are more susceptible to infection have not yet necessarily gotten two doses. I, therefore, think that it’s ethically premature to start out planning the 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 try to do so, since we’ve no really clear idea of who is ‘more susceptible to infection’. We do know that some co-morbid categories are more vulnerable to serious illness, but two doses of this vaccine currently protect quite well against that, he explained. Immunologist Vineeta Bal agreed, saying India shouldn’t consider providing booster doses at this stage when about 40 per cent of the eligible population is yet to receive the primary dose.
In her view, vulnerable people, those with co-morbidities, could also be considered for extra shots on a case by case basis. but it’s to be remembered that additional shots don’t cover specific variants, which are alleged to be more dangerous’, Bal, guest faculty at Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, told PTI.
Hence the utility of a further shot is going to be limited, in terms of expanding immunity, she argued. Though India has not yet unrolled the third dose, there are reports some healthcare workers and politicians in Mumbai have taken a booster. Earlier in the week Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Balram Bhargava said that a booster isn’t the central theme at the instant 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 within the country to 79.33 crores, consistent with data on the co-WIN portal. With this, an estimated 63 per cent of India’s adult population has received its first dose and 21 per cent are fully vaccinated, official sources said.
According to Rath, all current Covid vaccines in use worldwide remain very effective for cover against serious illness or death from the infection, with none booster doses.