ICMR chief questions vaccine booster dose's efficacy; says no supporting scientific evidencetext_fields
New Delhi: There is no scientific evidence so far to support the need for a booster vaccine dose against COVID-19, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava said on Monday underlining the completion of the second dose for India's adult population is the priority for the government for now.
"Administering the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all adult population, and ensuring that not only India but the entire world gets vaccinated, is the priority of the government for now," Bhargava said.
According to sources, the booster dose issue is likely to be discussed in the next meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) the Centre's top expert panel on immunisation.
Amid fear of a Covid-19 resurgence in the upcoming winter season, a number of political leaders, experts from medical associations, and several states including Rajasthan and Maharashtra have urged the government at the Centre to administer booster dose (third dose) to its vulnerable population and health workers.
Previously, the Indian Medical Association had called for a booster dose for healthcare workers across the nation. The IMA said that after the union government's clarification pertaining to the fact that a policy document on booster dose is underway, IMA has also consolidated its stand on the booster dose for healthcare workers and other high-risk citizens across the country.
"The Centre cannot take a direct decision in such a matter. When the ICMR says that booster shots should be given, we will consider it then. At present, the aim is to complete full vaccination of the target population. Once that is done, a decision on boosters will be taken. We have enough stocks available," Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said recently.
According to official data, out of 940 million eligible adults, around 82 per cent have taken their first dose of a Covid-19 jab, while nearly 43 per cent have taken both doses, or, in other words, are fully inoculated.
The nationwide vaccination drive against this viral illness began on January 16 this year. Till now, nearly 1.17 billion doses have been administered.