The Omicron variant has been spreading fast in India. In about seven days, the number of people who contracted the new variant of the coronavirus rose to 21 in India.
Amid the variant threat, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will meet today to discuss the administration of additional doses of the Covid vaccine to immunocompromised individuals.
Cancer patients on therapy, transplant patients, AIDS patients, among others, need additional doses (third dose) of the vaccine to improve their protection.
How additional dose of vaccine is different from booster dose?
A booster dose is given to an individual after a predefined period when the immune response due to the primary vaccination is presumed to have withered, while additional doses are given to immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals when the primary schedule of vaccination does not provide adequate protection from the infection and disease, they explained.
Recently, the Serum Institute of India (SII) sought approval from the drug regulator DCGI for Covishield to be used as a booster dose against Covid.
In an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government, and Regulatory Affairs at SII, said UK-MHRA has already approved the booster dose for AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine while citing there is no shortage of Covishield doses in India and that there is a demand for booster dose from those who have already taken two doses amid the emergence of new strains.
In its bulletin dated November 29, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) recommended booster doses of Covid vaccines for those above the age of 40 with a preference to high-risk and high-exposure populations.
However, on Saturday it had said its recommendation was not for the national immunisation programme as many more scientific experiments are required to assess its impact.
Regarding the administration of booster doses, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had recently informed the Lok Sabha that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) were deliberating and considering scientific evidence related to this aspect.
"For now the issue of booster dose is not on the agenda as studies are being conducted to ascertain its need and value.