New Delhi: The scientists in the UK have recently said that the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimen do not induce enough neutralising antibodies against the Omicron coronavirus variant, indicating there are increased chances of reinfections and infections in people who have been vaccinated with this new variant. In India, the tally of Omicron cases is increasing daily. According to the official data, India’s total Omicron cases have rose to 150 as of Friday. NDTV spoek to exerts to know more about whether two doses are enough or not to protect people against Omicron and should India consider rolling out booster doses now?
Here’s what experts have to say:
Talking about this new study that highlights that two doses of vaccines are not enough to protect people against Omicron and booster dosage, Professor Sanjeev Krishna, St George’s University, London said,
We are now more than 18 months in this infection and we are thinking differently and we have different tools available to fight COVID-19. The analysis is that the two doses of Astra Zeneca does protect you from developing a severe disease AND hospitalisation for COVID-19. But we have seen a serious drop in effectiveness with Omicron variant. However, this on the other hand, is encouraging us to go ahead and develop the third dosage for COVID-19 and we may in the near future move forward towards mixING and matching of vaccines to fight COVID-19. The key message is let’s vaccinate people as much as possible and keep vaccinating them, as well as use other tools of protection.
Stressing on the significance of booster dosage he further added that we do have information that booster shots work, he said,
Getting the third same dose of vaccine might not work because of the nature of the vaccine. That is why mixing and matching is very important and yes, we will need more data on the same.
Due to limited data in hand and we should wait before mix anding matching the vaccines for COVID-19, said Dr Rahul Pandit, Member COVID Task Force, Maharashtra and further added,
From India’s perspective, I don’t think we have data on both these vaccines – Covaxin or Covishield that indicates how their third dose will protect us against the variants. What we know is that vaccines offer some protection, for now our focus should be on vaccinating every individual with at least two doses of vaccines. On the other hand, we need to look at the fact that there is a huge population in India who had taken their vaccine in January and February, so their antibodY levels must have definitely gone down, so whether Omicron or not, the need for third dose should be looked INTO immediately. I think we should be looking for additional dosage for at least people who got vaccinated earlier this year and those who are immuno-compromised. We also need some solid data for mixing and matching the vaccine in the public domain for us to really talk about the possibility of mixing the vaccine doses.
Highlighting the on-ground reality from United Kingdom and indicating that even India should start looking for booster dosage, Dr Veer Pushpak Gupta, Royal Society Of Medicine, London added,
The hospital I work in the UK is completely packed, 117% of its capacity, ICU, emergency is full. This is the current situation, whether it is because of Omicron or if it is the usual winter surge – we don’t know. But the matter of fact is that Omicron is the faster transmissible virus, it is less severe than Delta. But, because of its fast transmissibility, it has the tendency of overwhelming the healthcare system. And if NHS is getting overwhelmed then it is a clear indication that the new variant is spreading at a much faster rate in the community. Talking about booster dosage, the decision to give booster doses was taken here because most of the population in the country is vaccinated, almost over 90 per cent have got their two doses. Weaning immunity is the main reason for booster dose. Currently, India’s vaccination rate is 53 per cent, I think we should start with the booster shot for that population at least, especially the healthcare workers.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.