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Govt's scientific groups deliberating on need for booster dose of COVID-19

Addressing a press conference, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said discussions are going on to look at different aspects of booster dose.

December 24, 2021 / 07:56 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

The government’s scientific groups are deliberating on the need for booster dose of COVID-19 and they are reviewing all data from across the world as well as from India, officials said on Friday.

Addressing a press conference, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said discussions are going on to look at different aspects of booster dose.

"There is a COVID working group, which has debated on it several times that those recommendations to the subcommittee of the National Technical Advisory Group of immunisation following which it goes to the main technical advisory group of immunisation and then to NEGVAC which will then be accepted by the Ministry of Health,” he said.

"So, deliberations are going on and we are reviewing all the scientific data from across the world as well as from India. We are deliberating and we are formulating our policy,” he said.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the government has very clearly articulated the position that it would be governed by science and scientific evidence on deciding on the need and timing for additional doses and for lowering the age of vaccination.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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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.

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"So our stand remains the same. And when we say science and scientific evidence, I did refer to certain aspects of science and scientific evidence. One aspect relates to antibody titers and their behaviour over a period of time. The other aspect relates to T cells and their behaviour over a period of time,” Bhushan said.

"The third aspect relates to hybrid immunity, where you take one dose of vaccination and then get afflicted by the disease, then recover then take the second dose. So these are issues that men of science are deliberating,” he said.

Quoting WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Bhushan said, "No country can boost its way out of the pandemic and boosters cannot be seen as a ticket to go ahead with planned celebrations without the need for other precautions”.

According to WHO expert Abdi Mahamud, Bhushan said, "Although we are seeing a reduction in the neutralization antibodies, almost all data shows T-cells remain intact, that is what we really require.”

"While the antibody defences from some courses have been undermined, there has been hope that T-cells, the second pillar of an immune response, can prevent severe disease by attacking infected human cells,” Mahamud was quoted as saying by Bhushan.

National Expert Group on vaccine administration for Covid (NEGVAC) and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) are deliberating and considering scientific evidence related to justification for booster dose against Covid, the Centre informed Parliament recently.
PTI
first published: Dec 24, 2021 07:56 pm
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