New Delhi: The chances of a massive third wave of coronavirus infections were "declining each passing day" due to low vaccine hesitancy and better vaccine coverage and booster shots were unnecessary at this period in time said AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Tuesday evening. He was addressing the media at the launch of "Going Viral", a book on the development of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin by ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava.
"As of now, we don't need a booster dose. We are well protected and I think we should focus on getting more and more people to get the first and second dose because if we have that number in a sufficiently large amount, we will be well protected as a country," Dr Guleria said. He emphasised that the response to vaccination drives meant that fewer breakthrough infections were being detected and that as of now the vaccines seemed to be holding out against the pandemic.
While the virus was expected to stick around for a long time, the number of patients hospitalised with severe infections should not be as severe as it was in the first and second waves of the pandemic he added.
NITI Aayog Member Dr V K Paul said that the question of booster doses also had a moral and ethical implication given that there were thousands still waiting for the first dose of the vaccine and that the priority was on getting them covered before systematically reviewing data to assess the need for a booster dose.
The book release function commemorated Bharat Biotech's struggle to create a vaccine against the raging coronavirus pandemic in the initial stages of the crisis, detailing their tracing the contacts of the first case diagnosed in India in January 2020, sprucing up testing and becoming the first to use antigen tests, beginning testing on-demand in September and going on to send testing kits to other parts of the world – and recalled the successful testing of the Indian vaccine on 20 monkeys as a turning point in the creation of the vaccine.
Dr Bhargava referred to the monkey as "unsung heroes" in the quest to develop the vaccine stating that the testing on them was the first ray of hope on the horizon.