- The pace of vaccination around the world has picked up with the advent of the invention of several candidates helping the countries battered with the pandemic’s debilitating effects to pick up economic activities on expected lines. The positive developments on this front are visible all around. However, there exists a huge gap between the way some of the advanced, developed, and developing countries are proceeding as compared to the poor and underdeveloped countries whilst administering the vaccines to their respective population. The distinct gap between the has and have-nots is quite pronounced what with advanced nations are already planning to administer booster shots over and above the full immunization protocols.
PC: Andrew Joseph
- Unfortunately, several countries are struggling to immunize people with even a single dose of vaccine for want of adequate supplies which is being comfortably garnered by the developed countries that have already secured the same long back. As you are aware, reports are emerging from several countries about the plans to undertake to administer booster shots to its fully immunized population, especially those suffering from immune-compromised illnesses. If you recollect, the World Health Organisation had earlier called for a complete moratorium on Covid vaccine booster doses until 2021 end fearing that the underdeveloped countries will be deprived of the life-saving elixir if rich countries kept securing their supplies unhindered.
- Now, the WHO has this week recommended vaccine booster shots for immuno-compromised people largely based on emerging data about their higher risk of breakthrough infections even after receiving standard immunization. Of course, it comes with a rider that the advisory is intended to be made applicable to only those countries that have maximized two-dose coverage as on date. What does this advisory entail for India then? With around 30% of adults double-vaccinated so far, India has some way to traverse even if second doses are really picking up pace now. However, what must be emphasized unequivocally is the immunological research that will enable making an informed decision about booster shots, for the new year.
- As reports suggest, Biological E has sought approval to conduct the third-phase clinical trial of its Corbevax vaccine as a single-dose booster for those fully vaccinated with Covishield or Covaxin. Needless to mention, such investigations are important as trials elsewhere have indeed shown that mixing and matching can be preferable. Advanced investigations of this nature need to be built upon to understand whether and how protection against infection, if not hospitalization and death, is fading in India over time. Many of our health workers were fully vaccinated by February and monitoring their antibody levels is of utmost importance. Thus, it is incumbent on the part of health authorities to build strong data leading to strong policy on the issue of administering booster doses to eligibles. Therefore, India must use the current disease lull to gird up research that will prove to be a reliable guide at the right time.