India not keen on booster does now; full vaccination a priority

With several high-income countries deciding to start administering Covid-19 vaccine boosters, India's health ministry said priority will continue to be full vaccination of two doses and that booster dose is not a "central theme" at the moment in the scientific discussions

Sep 17, 2021
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India vaccination a priority

With several high-income countries deciding to start administering Covid-19 vaccine boosters, India's health ministry said priority will continue to be full vaccination of two doses and that booster dose is not a "central theme" at the moment in the scientific discussions.

Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that while there have been scientific studies showing a decrease in antibody levels after a certain period of administration of two doses, there are other forms of immunity against the infection that could persist. He said increasing the two-dose vaccination coverage in the country will remain the top public health priority, The Indian Express reported. 

Bhargava’s statement comes in the wake of the country's first-dose vaccination coverage having touched 62 per cent and 20 per cent of the eligible adult population being fully vaccinated, according to The Indian Express. 

“We have to remember one thing very clearly, that booster dose is not a central theme at the moment in the scientific discussion. Getting a full vaccination of two doses remains a major priority. Several agencies have recommended that antibody levels should not be measured because you can have cellular immunity, antibody immunity, or mucosal immunity that persists…full vaccination of both doses are absolutely essential, and there should be no breakage in that thinking,” Bhargava said.

On Thursday, the health ministry also highlighted that 1,595 PSA plants, that generate medical oxygen, have been commissioned; and that these plants are currently providing 2,088 MT of medical oxygen at hospitals across the country.

 “(A total of) 3,631 PSA plants are being set up in the country; when all of them will be commissioned, we will have an availability of 4,571 MT of medical oxygen,” Health Secretary 
Rajesh Bhushan said.

On Thursday, Dr V K Paul, the head of India’s Covid-19 task force, reiterated that the next two to three months will be crucial for the country due to the upcoming festive season that could trigger a surge in cases.
 
“In the next 2-3 months we have to be cautious and ensure that there is no upsurge; and if we see an early rise in cases, it should be brought under control. There have been estimations that in the next three months, the country will become more vulnerable; the estimations are that it could be in the month of October or November. That should worry us. It is also the month of festivities. It is also the period when cases of flu increase. We have to be extra careful in the next quarter, in the context of festivities. We have to push our vaccination programme. That is our shield,” Paul said.