'Don't have enough data...': Dr Randeep Guleria on if India needs booster shot of Covid-19 vaccine
Even as booster shot of coronavirus vaccine has been approved in some countries, including Israel and the United States, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Saturday India “does not have enough data” right now to determine if a booster is needed in the country to increase protection against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). More information in this regard would be available "by early next year," Dr Guleria told NDTV.
“I don’t think we have enough data right now, even for elderly and higher-risk groups, to say that a booster shot is needed. We really need to have some data to give us an idea of the level of protection that vaccines provide. Information is still emerging, possibly by early next year, we will have data on what type of booster shots are needed, and who all need it,” he said.
For single-dose vaccines, the second dose represents the booster shot, while for two-dose vaccines, the third one will be the booster. A booster shot is administered only if required.
Dr Guleria also emphasised that globally, as well as in India, people who have been vaccinated continue to be protected from severe Covid-19, adding that “there has not been a huge surge” in hospital admissions among such people. “Will the booster be needed from the vaccines available? Should we consider a new vaccine or the same one? Should vaccines be combined for the booster? These details are still emerging,” the senior doctor further said.
India’s vaccination drive against Covid-19 began on January 16, and all citizens above the age of 18 are eligible to be inoculated. Covishield and Covaxin were the first two vaccines to receive emergency use authorisation (EUA), and both require two doses. Among other vaccines to be approved for use in India, both Sputnik V and mRNA-1273, also have two-dose regimen, while Johnson and Johnson’s jab requires a single dose. The latest vaccine to be given EUA here, ZyCoV-D, is the world’s first three-dose vaccine for Covid-19.
Among these, Covaxin and ZyCoV-D are indigenously developed jabs. Till now, 576,117,350 vaccine doses have been administered in the country, including 3,636,043 in the last 24 hours, according to Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW).