There is no scientific evidence so far to support the need for a booster vaccine dose against Covid-19, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava said on Monday underlining the completion of second dose for India’s adult population is the priority for the government for now. According to sources, the booster dose issue is likely to be discussed in the next meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI).
Similarly, VK Paul, chief of India’s Covid-19 task force, on Tuesday, said that experts are drawing up a comprehensive policy on booster doses. There’s lot of work going into studying the need for boosters,” he said. Paul was speaking at the launch of the book ‘Going Viral’ authored by Balram Bhargava, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Randeep Guleria too said that booster dose is not the need of the hour. “We are well protected right now and don’t need a booster dose right now. He added that a third Covid wave of a magnitude comparable to the first two is unlikely to hit India.
The World Health Organisation too has criticised this booster policy, reiterating the need to first immunise high risk populations across the world. Last week, Dr Tedros Adhanom, director, WHO, said six times more booster doses have been administered globally than first doses in low-income countries. “This is a scandal that must stop now,” he said.
It has seen that many netizens are becoming reluctant to COVID vaccine after side effects, positivity and even deaths are reported in vaccinated individuals. The issues have been raised by Awaken India Movement and Indian Bar association comprising of doctors and lawyers from all over India, that want to sack Balram Bhargava, V K Paul, Randeep Guleria, Srinath Reddy, Soumya Swaminathan and many others for their unscientific statements, actions and positions in tasks forces.
According to officials, over 12 crore beneficiaries are overdue for their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine after the expiry of the prescribed interval between the two doses.
With sizable stocks of unused Covid-19 vaccines in India’s private hospitals inching closer to an expiry date, the private healthcare sector has asked the government to allow booster shots to be given to fully vaccinated people.
The government has launched a month-long ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign for house-to-house COVID-19 vaccination of those who are yet to take a dose and for people whose second dose is overdue.