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Precautionary dose different from boosters, mixing vaccines unlikely

A top Health Ministry official said the Covid-19 precautionary dose, so named with respect to its target segment of people with comorbidities, will most likely be the same vaccine received during the first and second dose.

December 28, 2021 / 11:54 AM IST
Representative image/AFP

Representative image/AFP

The central government may opt for prescribing the same Covid-19 vaccine — that was given for the first and second dose — as the precautionary dose due to lack of data on vaccine mixing in India, a top bureaucrat has said.

While there is not much evidence right now in India that mixing of Covid-19 vaccines, especially Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin works, a separate deliberation is going on regarding booster doses for the adult population which is different from the precautionary dose, the official told News18.com.

However, the official insisted that it is still under deliberation and the final decision will be taken “anytime soon".

“We need to keep this in mind that our Prime Minister has named the dose as ‘precautionary’ and not booster doses. The panels are still deliberating over boosters for other population,” said the government official from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“Precautionary dose is the third dose or additional dose which doctors and medical practitioners can prescribe to people who are frail. In most likelihood, it is going to be the same vaccine. The discussions are still on, but no final call has been taken yet.”

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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He explained that the idea behind calling it ‘precautionary’ is that the target population is elderly and their bodies might not have generated the immune response with two doses as much as young or healthy bodies might have.

“People with comorbidities such as HIV or cancer won’t respond very well to two doses, hence the third dose is a matter of precaution because a resurgence of a new variant has been announced.”

The official assured that this is not exactly the “final call” on boosters and the matter remains pending with the apex panel, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI).

In a surprise address on Christmas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would start giving the third “precautionary dose” to healthcare and frontline workers and those above 60 with comorbidities from January 10. He also announced vaccination for children aged 15-18 from January 3.

Source: News18
News18
first published: Dec 28, 2021 11:54 am
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