Dr JP Mulayil, an epidemiologist and member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI), said on Tuesday that a booster dose against Covid-19 at this time would be untimely, just two days after another NTAGI member said that the benefits of a third shot might not justify expanding coverage to all age groups.
“Boosters in the current time will not achieve any specific outcome. Unvaccinated should get vaccinated, rather than shifting focus on booster shots. It can be reserved for a future emergency,” Dr Mulayil said, the Times of India said in a report.
He further said that in the face if future variants, it was unsure whether these boosters will be helpful for all of them. On Tuesday, the NTAGI for Covid-19 and the WHO held a high-level meeting where the issue of boosters was thoroughly discussed.
The Times of India quoted a senior health official as saying that “boosters have not helped the cases in any country that has administered the third dose.” They added that India will not “blindly follow” other countries, but look at our local epidemiology and science, and base decisions on that assessment.
However, “precaution doses” would continue to be administered to healthcare workers and those over 60 with comorbidities as part of the government’s national immunisation programme, according to the official.
Epidemiologist Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya said India did not need to rush booster doses for the entire adult population right now, the report stated.
According to him, with rising infection of the Omicron variant, a large section of the population had got the infection, which had resulted in additional protection; eliminating the hurry to administer the third dose at all.
Dr. Lahariya stated that there was insufficient data to determine whether the third dose of vaccines used in India provided additional benefit in the current situation. “Those who have been affected by Omicron can very well wait for their shot,” he said, according to the report.
Dr Gagandeep Kang, a leading virologist and NTAGI member, had earlier said that older people and those with comorbidities who had not previously been infected would require boosters.