The government is likely to soon reduce the gap between the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and the precaution dose from the current nine months to six months, official sources said on Wednesday.
A recommendation on lessening the gap is expected to be made by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) which is set to hold a meeting on April 29, they told PTI.
Studies at ICMR and other international research institutions have suggested that antibody level wanes after about six months from the primary vaccination with both doses and giving a booster increases the immune response.
All those above the age of 18 who have completed nine months after the administration of the second dose are eligible for the precaution dose.
"Taking into account the scientific evidence and findings of the studies done here and internationally, the gap between the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and the precaution dose will most likely be reduced from the current nine months to six months soon. A final decision will be taken based on the recommendations by the NTAGI which is set to meet on Friday,” a source in the know of the developments told PTI.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
India began administering precaution doses of vaccines to healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10.
The government removed the comorbidity clause making all people aged above 60 eligible for the precaution dose in March.
According to health ministry data, 5,17,547 precaution doses have been administered in age group 18-59 years so far.
Besides, 4736567 healthcare workers, 7447184 frontline workers and 14545595 individuals aged 60 and above have taken the precaution shot.India on April 10 began administering precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all aged above 18 years at private vaccination centres.