There is no scientific evidence so far to suggest that a booster vaccine shot is needed for immunity against coronavirus, Indian Council of Medical Research chief Dr Balram Bhargava said on Monday, reported PTI.

“Administering the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all adult population and ensuring that not only India but the entire world gets vaccinated is the priority of the government for now,” he told PTI.

Booster shots are jabs given to ramp up the number of antibodies provided by vaccines that wane over a period of time.

Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Israel and South Korea are offering booster doses to either all adults or people more vulnerable to the virus.

India, however, has not yet drafted a policy to administer booster shots and maintained that the priority was to vaccinate the entire adult population in the country.

In August, All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria had said that the country does not have enough information on whether a booster dose is needed to increase protection against the coronavirus disease. Guleria, however, had admitted that India might need booster shots at some point in time.

Unidentified officials have told PTI that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India is likely to take up the matter of administering booster shots in its next meeting.

Also read: The world is warming up to the idea of booster shots. Shouldn’t India consider it too?

On the probability of administering a booster dose, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had also said emphasised that the government’s target was to to complete the vaccination of the adult population with two doses.

“The government cannot take a direct decision in such a matter,” he said. “When the Indian Council of Medical Research and expert team will say that a booster dose should be given, we will consider it then.”

India has so far administered 1,17,58,43,376 Covid-19 vaccine doses since the immunisation programme began on January 16, according to data available on CoWin portal. As many as 40,62,46,823 people have been received both the shots. This is 43% of the eligible population, according to officials.

Around 82% of the eligible population has also received the first shot, officials said.

Meanwhile, India recorded 8,488 new coronavirus cases on Monday morning, pushing the overall tally of infections to 3,45,18,901 since the pandemic began in January last year. The number of new cases was the lowest in 538 days or over 17 months, according to the Union health ministry

The country reported 249 more deaths in the last 24 hours. The toll rose to 4,65,911.