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 second dose for India’s adult population is the priority for the government for now.
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).
“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.
“More so, there is no scientific evidence so far to support the need for a booster vaccine dose against COVID-19,” Bhargava told PTI. On the probability of administering a booster dose, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya recently said that adequate stocks are available and the aim is to complete the vaccination of the target population with two doses. After that, a decision on booster dose would be taken based on expert recommendation, he had said.
“The government cannot take a direct decision in such a matter. When the Indian Council of Medical Research and expert team will say that a booster dose should be given, we will consider it then,” he had said, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always depended on expert opinion, be it vaccine research, manufacturing or approval.
According to officials, around 82 per cent of the eligible population in India have received the first dose of the vaccine while around 43 per cent have been fully inoculated.
The total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has exceeded 116.87 crore, according to provisional reports till 7 am.
The government has launched a month-long ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign for house-to-house COVID-19 vaccination of those who are yet to take a dose and for people whose second dose is overdue.
According to officials, over 12 crore beneficiaries are overdue for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine after the expiry of the prescribed interval between the two doses.