This will most likely be reasonably effective against future variants as well, the scientist added.

The Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which manufactures Covishield, on Thursday sought approval from India’s drug regulator for a booster dose, citing a sufficient stock of vaccine in the country and a request for a third injection due to the emergence of new variants of coronavirus.

The government, at a press briefing, said the scientific rationale for the booster vaccine doses for COVID-19 is under review, but the priority is to ensure full vaccination of the eligible population with both doses.

Kerala, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh have urged the Center to decide whether to allow booster doses of the sick Covid vaccine amid Omicron concerns.

In Bal’s opinion, fully vaccinated individuals still show protection and no one knows if the Omicron variant will spread as quickly as Delta did before and whether it will be more or less transmissible than Delta.

“At the individual level, booster doses would further increase the pre-existing response, and that will certainly help, in principle,” she said.

However, current vaccines will still use the old vaccine based on the reference strain, therefore neither Delta’s specific nor Omicron’s specific booster can be achieved by a booster dose, Bal added.

Bal said the virus would continue to mutate, especially as large numbers of people in lower middle-income countries (LMICs) and also in developed countries remain unvaccinated.

Concentrating efforts on more and more recent variants for vaccine development does not seem practical, she added.

Rath said that while the booster doses may increase antibody levels, the duration of this extra protection is not known.

Will this increase, as long as it lasts, contribute to better protection against the spread of the virus? Yes, but it probably won’t be a very big effect. Will recalls of current vaccines protect against future variants? The answer is, who knows? added the scientist.

At least 36 countries are administering booster doses of the Covid vaccine, according to Our World in Data. However, WHO wants the most vulnerable people in the world to be fully immunized first.

Six different COVID-19 boosters are safe and cause a strong immune response in people who have already received two doses of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The vaccines studied were AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Novavax, Janssen, Moderna, Valneva and Curevac.

Data on side effects show that all seven vaccines can be used safely as 3rd doses, with acceptable levels of inflammatory side effects such as pain at the injection site, muscle pain, fatigue, the professor said. Saul Faust, Trial Manager, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

Bal noted that boosters have more psychological benefits than additional protection, for ordinary people, excluding vulnerable populations.

“However, vaccinating people in the south of the globe is very critical at this point. We have seen how quickly Omicron has crossed national and continental barriers to reach different parts of the globe.

Unless almost everyone in the world is vaccinated, there is no way to sit still, the immunologist added.

India has administered 1,26,37,79,602 (126 crore / 1.26 billion) doses of vaccine so far, with 79.68.96.038 (79.6 crore / 796 million) receiving one dose while 46 , 68.83.564 (466 million / 46.6 crore) receiving two doses.


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