Vaccine for third dose to be decided by January 10: ICMR

Updated on Dec 31, 2021 04:51 AM IST

A third or ‘precaution’ dose is primarily to mitigate severity of infections, hospitalisation and death, reiterated ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava.

A health worker administers a dose of Covid-19 vaccine to a pilgrim in front of the Kapil Muni temple, ahead of the upcoming Gangasagar Mela, at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, on Thursday. (PTI)
A health worker administers a dose of Covid-19 vaccine to a pilgrim in front of the Kapil Muni temple, ahead of the upcoming Gangasagar Mela, at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, on Thursday. (PTI)
By, New Delhi

The Centre will take a decision before January 10 on whether the precautionary dose against Covid-19 for healthcare and frontline workers and citizens above 60 years with comorbidities should be as the first two doses or a mixed one, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Thursday.

“We are analyzing all the data that is available in terms of which vaccine can be given to which beneficiary — whether it is going to be the same one or is it going to be a different one. Before the 10th (January), we will have clear cut recommendations on the same. The drugs controller and the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) are meeting, and that decision will be taken soon,” ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava said at the weekly media briefing here.

“We are having an extensive debate (on which vaccine to be given as a precautionary dose). We’ve had a series of meetings of NTAGI yesterday, day before, today and we are deciding for the population group that will require this precaution dose… which vaccine can be given for in terms of safety and efficacy,” he added.

Experts believe that mixing and matching of vaccines is likely to be more effective. “For precaution dose, it is likely to work better, but both safety and effectiveness need to be monitored,” Gagandeep Kang, senior vaccine expert, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said.

Besides this, the ICMR director general said the durability of immunity post Covid-19 vaccination persists for nine months or more and a precautionary dose of vaccine which will be administered to the concerned population is to mitigate the severity of infection, hospitalisation and death. He said hybrid immunity, which is developed as a result of vaccination and natural infection, mounts a stronger response and robust antibody titres after the second dose.

“If you have had an infection and vaccination, your immune response is more than only infection or vaccine. So the important thing is that vaccination is absolutely essential,” he said.

Citing a few global and Indian studies, Bhargava said: “This is from the US published in Science, and there is antibody and cellular response more than nine months after infection from China. Then longitudinal investigations in the US have multiple studies have shown that the antibody responses persists for more than 13 months post infection and the systematic review of 10 studies from Israel, England, Denmark, US, Austria and Italy have shown more than 90% reduction in reinfection up to 10 months.”

“... We like to say that up to nine months and take a slightly conservative estimate of that and that is what is the evidence. From India there are three studies two from ICMR and one from Mumbai, on 284 patients, on 755 patients and 244 that it persists for up to eight months, seven months and six months (respectively) and these are all published data from infection that occurred in 2020, 2021,” he added.

Precaution dose is primarily to mitigate severity of infections, hospitalisation and death, he reiterated.

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“Now this is very important for individuals who are elderly, immune compromised or on chemotherapy, or patients who have chronic obstructive lung disease. So these are patients where a precautionary dose would be useful to prevent serious disease hospitalization and death,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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