India: Govt suggests Covid-19 booster shots for those above 40

Ministry warns that Omicron could decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines



A medical staff inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against Covid-19 coronavirus disease at the Ramaiah Hospital in Bangalore on October 21, 2021, as India administered its billionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on October 21, according to the health ministry, half a year after a devastating surge in cases brought the health system close to collapse. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP)
A medical staff inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against Covid-19 coronavirus disease at the Ramaiah Hospital in Bangalore on October 21, 2021, as India administered its billionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on October 21, according to the health ministry, half a year after a devastating surge in cases brought the health system close to collapse. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP)

By Web Desk

Published: Fri 3 Dec 2021, 2:52 PM

Covid-19 booster vaccines for those above 40, especially high-risk and high-exposure people, has been recommended by the Indian Sars-Cov-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (Insacog), a network of national testing labs of the government.

"Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years of age and over, first targeting the most high-risk/high-exposure may be considered since low levels of neutralising antibodies from current vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralise Omicron, although the risk of severe disease is still likely to be reduced," said an Insacog bulletin.

The network of testing labs noted that genomic surveillance would be critical for early detection of the presence of the variant, to enable necessary public health measures. “Monitoring travel to and from the known affected areas and contact tracing of Covid-19 cases with an epidemiological link to the affected areas has been implemented along with increased testing (with the sequencing of confirmed cases and possible SGTF based rapid screening),” said the bulletin.

The Indian Health ministry also warned on Friday that some of the mutations reported on the spike gene of Omicron could decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. It said that vaccine protection is by antibodies as well as cellular immunity.

The ministry has directed all state governments to ensure contact tracing of all positive persons. Rajesh Bhushan, the health secretary told the states that all contacts of a positive person must be traced, quarantined and tested within 72 hours. “Samples of all those who test positive must be sent for Whole Genome Sequencing expeditiously, and only to the laboratories tagged to the State/UT in the Insacog network,” he said.

He also directed states to put in place a system to ensure that sample quality is good and transportation to Insacog labs is quick.


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