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Covid-19 booster dose in India: Opinions divided, as experts appear sceptical

So far, the vulnerable groups, including frontline healthcare workers and senior citizens (above 60 years) with comorbidities, are eligible for the booster jab



A health worker prepares to inoculate a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus during a vaccination camp in Amritsar on June 8, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
A health worker prepares to inoculate a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus during a vaccination camp in Amritsar on June 8, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 2:37 PM

The Indian government is likely to review its policy on booster dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

The move comes on the back of the world’s second-most populous country’s scientific experts’ views.

Who all are eligible?

They are of the opinion that the benefits of a third shot don’t merit expansion of the coverage to other age groups.

Frontline healthcare workers and senior citizens (above 60 years) with comorbidities — under the Narendra Modi-led government’s national immunisation programme — are only eligible for the booster dose.

It is estimated that 300 million and 27.5 million frontline healthcare and senior citizens are eligible for the booster dose.

Stakeholders' meet

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), which is tasked to carry out the vaccination drive in the country, and the World Health Organization (WHO) officials held a meeting on January 25 to discuss the issue about booster dose threadbare.

What are experts looking at?

The experts are closely monitoring the following trends such as the behavioural pattern of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, infection pattern of the raging contagion, emerging variants such as Delta and Omicron, viral loads and reinfection among patients.

India, which has been slow on the uptake in rolling out booster doses as it awaits empirical evidence, has been looking at booster doses amid an unprecedented spike in the number of Omicron cases.

Earlier on January 11, the government had started administering an additional “precautionary” dose of the Covid-19 vaccine — either Covaxin or Covishield — to the vulnerable group.

Both Covaxin and Covishield are given in two doses, and the booster dose is the third one for the vulnerable section of the society.

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How many Indians have received the jab?

Data shows that 50.2 per cent Indians have been vaccinated, of which 693 million have received both the jabs.

So far, the South Asian nation has administered 1.64 billion doses of the two vaccines that it has approved.

India has reported 40,371,500 Covid-19 cases and 491,729 deaths since the viral outbreak in March 2020.

joydeep@khaleejtimes.com


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