India does not need to roll out booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine for now, All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Tuesday, according to PTI.
Booster shots are jabs given to ramp up the number of antibodies provided by vaccines that wane over a period of time.
Guleria, while speaking at the launch of a book on Covaxin, an indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotecj, said that there is no surge in coronavirus cases in India presently. This suggests that the shots already in use are offering protection against the infection, Guleria added.
“The vaccines are holding up, we are not seeing breakthrough infections causing a surge in our [hospital] admissions, our sero-positivity rate is very high,” Guleria was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “All of these suggest that as of now, we really don’t need a booster dose. We may need it in the future, that is definitely there.”
Guleria said that presently, the focus must be on injecting more Indians with the first and second doses of the vaccine. “If we have that number [of people vaccinated with the first and second doses] in a sufficiently large amount, we will be well protected as a country,” he added.
The AIIMS director said it was unlikely that a huge third wave of coronavirus cases would hit India
“As our vaccination programme is moving forward, as we are seeing low vaccine hesitancy and as we are seeing the vaccines are holding out – in terms of preventing severe disease and preventing hospitalisation and death – the chance of any huge wave is declining with each passing day,” he said, according to The Indian Express.
Guleria added that the coronavirus will become an endemic. “We will have some patients who will be sick but it will not be of the magnitude that we saw in the first and second waves and most of us will be protected,” he said.
Meanwhile Dr VK Paul, the chief of India’s Covid-19 task force, said the country is examining data on booster vaccine doses, News18 reported. “While several studies are coming out, we still are looking for accurate answers to understand which one is the right booster and what is the correct interval to start jabbing,” he added.
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.