Coronavirus infections and deaths have begun to rise once more around the world. With this, many countries have started administering the booster dose of Covid vaccine in order to provide extra protection to their citizens. Meanwhile, the Government of India is likely to issue a guideline regarding the booster dose soon.

A key member of the Covid task force, Dr NK Arora said that the booster dose guideline will be available in the next 10 days. This will specify how, when, and to whom the booster dose of the vaccine will be administered.

Have other countries started administering booster shots?

Yes, according to reports, over 36 countries are administering booster doses of the Covid vaccine.

Germany, Austria, Canada and France are among the first to start giving the booster shots.

  • Israel

In July, Israel became the first country to begin administering booster doses. More than 40 lakh people have already received the third dose of the vaccine.

The third dose of the vaccine was only given to people over the age of 65 in August, but the booster dose is now given to anyone over the age of 12.

  • US

The United States approved a booster dose in September. Only Pfizer's vaccine was approved for booster shots in September, but three vaccine booster shots are currently being administered.

2.62 crore people have received a booster dose of the vaccine so far.

  • UK

Pfizer and Moderna booster doses are given in the United Kingdom six months after the second dose. Following an increase in cases in the United Kingdom, the government changed the guideline on October 30th, reducing this period to 5 months for people with comorbidities. More than 93 lakh people have received booster doses so far.

  • Canada

In November, Canada started administering booster doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Dose quantities have been kept separate based on comorbidity and age. Anyone over the age of 18 can receive a Pfizer booster dose.

Logic behind third dose (booster dose)

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the booster doses are administered to a vaccinated population that has completed its primary vaccination process (one dose or two doses depending on the vaccine administered) when the rate of immunity and clinical protection in them has dipped below the required levels over time. The booster shot's purpose is to essentially restore the vaccine's effectiveness in the body to the required levels.

Booster doses may also be required if "there is evidence of insufficient protection against these disease outcomes over time," according to the WHO. It goes on to say that the degree of weakening immunity and the need for booster shots may vary depending on the vaccine, target population, virus in circulation, variant of concern, and intensity of exposure.

Is India ready for booster dose?

The booster dose's objective is to extend vaccine efficacy in people who have already received primary vaccination. However, this decision should be made only after a thorough examination of the need for boosters and their timing.

Experts, however, believe that India should hold off on administering booster doses to its population until more research is conducted to prove their effectiveness.

The Union Health Ministry is currently following a "wait-and-watch" policy. Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has stated that acquiring two doses is India's top priority.

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, an indigenous vaccine developed in India, is currently undergoing booster dose trials, the results of which have yet to be published.

Meanwhile, On Thursday, a doctor from the All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi stated that India cannot afford to administer booster shots because only about 35% of the population is fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 disease. MV Padma Srivastava, a neurology professor, reasoned that the country should prioritise and vaccinate the remaining population first, rather than giving the doses as a booster to those who have already received both shots of the vaccine.

"Approximately 35% of our population is fully vaccinated." A sizable portion of the population has yet to be fully vaccinated. Can we afford to take doses away and give those to someone who is already vaccinated but needs a booster shot?" she asked.

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