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India to wait for full vaccination before authorizing booster shots: Official

New Delhi, Even as the US has approved the booster shot for immune-suppressed individuals, India will wait till the goal of full immunization among the target population is achieved, a top government official told UNI on Wednesday.

Dr NK Arora, chairperson, Covid-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) said that the focus of the government is towards full immunization of the adult population.

“Our primary focus is to provide immunization with full doses of the vaccines approved here. There is no discussion on the boosters so far and will be taken up only after we achieve our primary goal given the growing evidence,” he said.

The NTAGI chief said that various kinds of antibodies are formed in an individual after receiving the vaccination and only studies will guide whether the booster shots should be followed among vaccinated individuals.

“There are general antibodies formed after vaccination while there is also T cell immunity. It is tough to determine which immunity is lost. Only scientific evidence will guide such decisions. For now, our priority is to immunize everyone with pre-decided doses of vaccines,” Arora explained.

The US has authorized the third shot of vaccines approved there for certain immune-compromised individuals. The country’s drug regulator, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the administration of third doses of both the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines for certain people which include solid organ transplant recipients or ‘those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise’.

“Studies indicate some immunocompromised people don’t always build the same level of immunity after vaccination the way non-immunocompromised people do and may benefit from an additional dose to ensure adequate protection against COVID-19,” the USFDA said in a statement last week.

The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has also recommended the people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of Covid-19 vaccines at least 28 days after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (Covid-19 vaccines).

Meanwhile in India, the Covid-19 vaccine makers have started batting for the third dose of Covid-19 vaccines. The makers of AstraZeneca-Covishield stated a few days ago that after the initial two doses of Covishield, there should be a third dose preferably six months after the second shot of their Covid-19 vaccine.

Cyrus Poonawalla Chairman of Serum Institute of India called for the third dose of Covishield, which his company manufactures in India, as he claimed that the immune response elicited by the vaccine reduces after six months of its intake.

Managing Director (MD) of Bharat Biotech, Dr Krishna Ella, also informed a day ago during an event that the firm is working on a combination of its Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, and a nasal vaccination that, if given, can act as a booster dose and keep a person from getting infected by the novel virus.

The call for an additional dose of Covid-19 vaccines is fuelled by a research study done by University College London (UCL) and published in The Lancet journal claimed that the total antibody levels start to wane six weeks after complete immunisation with Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, and can reduce by more than 50 per cent over 10 weeks. 




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