The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, the emerging variants and lax precautions are suspected to be the main reasons behind the rising number of infections. Given the current scenario, boosters are being considered by governments across the globe as a way of staying ahead of the virus. This is probably due to two reasons: waning antibody levels and the high viral load produced by the Delta variant. In such scenarios, the demand for a booster dose has gone up in many parts of the world.
Globally, experts are keeping a close watch to determine if and most importantly when people might need another shot. At the same time, vaccinations are considered as the topmost priority noting the fact that worrisome mutants of the deadly coronavirus wouldn’t be popping up so fast if most parts of the world and more of the US had gotten the initial round of shots.
According to the World Health Organisation, the current data does not indicate that Covid-19 booster shots are needed, adding that worldwide—the most vulnerable people should be fully vaccinated before high-income countries deploy a top-up.
Real-world data from several countries show that the vaccines most widely used in countries continue to provide strong protection. However, there are chances that some people could need a booster before the entire population—such as transplant recipients and other patients with weak immune systems. The reason being, people on immune-suppressing medications don’t react as strongly to any vaccinations.
Countries like France and Israel have already rolled out a similar third-dose policy for the immunocompromised. Although it’s not authorised in the US, some transplant recipients seek out a third dose in hopes of more protection.
Amid the possibility of a third wave of Covid-19 hitting the country, an expert panel set up under the Ministry of Home Affairs said that there has not been enough data generated locally to decide on the need for a booster dose for those fully inoculated. Studies are already underway to determine the need and timing of the booster shot for currently used vaccines in the country.
Based on the scientific evidence generated locally, India will take the call on the need for a booster shot to increase protection against the coronavirus but more information is likely to be available by early next year. With time the immunity tends to fall, therefore, experts have suggested the need for the booster dose of vaccine. There is waning immunity and a booster dose is expected to cover for various emerging variants.
The epidemiology of the Covid infection and the durability of protection provided by the current dosage regime of the vaccines will be the important driving factors to determine the need for booster doses in the country.
The author is Vice President of Clinical Services, DayToDay Health India.