Coronavirus: Not enough data to decide if booster shots are needed in India, says AIIMS chief
Dr Randeep Guleria said that data is likely to be available by the beginning of next year.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Saturday said that the country does not have enough information on whether a booster dose is needed to increase protection against the coronavirus disease, reported NDTV. Booster shots are jabs given to ramp up the number of antibodies provided by vaccines that wane over a period of time.
“Information is still emerging... it will take some more months,” he told NDTV. “Possibly by [the] beginning of next year, we will have data on what will be the type of booster shots and who needs it.”
Several other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Israel and Russia have either already offered booster shots or planning to provide them soon.
On Saturday, Guleria told NDTV that India can take a decision on booster shots only after data shows that the vaccine protection has reached a “waning point”.
The AIIMS chief also pointed to the rise in daily Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom and claimed that the country did not witness an increase in hospitalisation though no booster shots were given to its citizens.
“Globally, we are seeing that people who have been vaccinated continue to have protection from severe disease and they are not seeing a huge surge in people getting admitted to hospitals... in India too,” he said.
Guleria, however, admitted that India might need booster shots at some point in time. “Will we need it [booster shot] from vaccines available?” he said. ‘Should we look at a new vaccine or the same vaccine? Should we mix the vaccines as a booster? This is the information that is still emerging.”
The World Health Organization has voiced concerns about countries deciding to administer booster jabs. On August 19, Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, had said that the decision by some rich countries to roll out the booster shots for their citizens makes a mockery of vaccine equity.
Earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had also called for a pause in administering booster shots. He had said that a pause would ensure the vaccination of at least 10% of the population in every country.
Meanwhile, India has so far administered 58,06,02,518 vaccine doses, government data on CoWin portal showed. Of this, 12,95,19,577 have received both shots.
On Sunday morning, India recorded 30,948 coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s infection tally to 3,24,24,234 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The case tally is 10.18% lower than Saturday’s count of 34,457.
With 403 deaths, the toll climbed to 4,34,367. So far, 3,16,36,469 people have recovered from the infection. The number of active cases has dropped to 3,53,398.