Thursday, July 18, 2024

4th Covid vaccine dose unwarranted right now

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PNS | New Delhi

Several countries are administering a third and even fourth Covid booster shot but India, where many fully vaccinated individuals have not taken even one, is not there yet, say experts while stressing on the need for a structured and systematic response.

As Covid gets back on the radar with a surge in China and people worry about another wave in India and whether the government should now allow a second booster shot to add to the two-jab protection, some scientists call for a reality check.

A fourth shot of a Covid preventive is unwarranted at the moment as most people in the country are yet to receive a third dose and there is no data available on the utility of a second booster for the currently used vaccines, they said. Besides, the situation in India where a large number of people have been exposed to the virus and also been vaccinated is quite different.

“There is no reason to expect that the Chinese situation, which is specifically shaped by the zero-Covid policies that the country implemented for almost three years, will predict anything in India,” said Satyajit Rath, adjunct faculty at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune.

China has been witnessing thousands of cases daily in the last few weeks. On Wednesday, India logged 188 new coronavirus infections with a daily positivity rate of 0.14 per cent and the weekly positivity rate recorded at 0.18 per cent, the Union Health Ministry said.

“The Indian situation, with widespread actual infection in addition to vaccination, is quite different. And the Covid virus is after all spreading and therefore mutating in communities worldwide, not just in China, so new variants are emerging everywhere,” Rath told PTI.

“The Omicron wave hit India just about a year ago. If that infection did not trigger enough Omicron-specific immunity none of the vaccines currently available in India would provide further protection,” added fellow immunologist Vineeta Bal, also from IISER Pune.

Countries such as the US and UK are administering third and fourth booster doses to fully vaccinated individuals as well as extra shots to the immunocompromised who did not have a strong immune response from their initial doses. Former Indian Medical Association president Dr. JA Jayalal said on Tuesday that IMA in a meeting urged Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to consider the fourth dose for healthcare workers and frontline workers.

The meeting came against the backdrop of rising cases globally, especially in China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

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