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Immunity recharge | Indian express


Amid an increase in infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the WHO has dramatically revised its position on booster doses of the Covid vaccine. On Wednesday, he recommended a further blow for “the most vulnerable and high-risk groups of a population, as well as frontline workers.” While the World Health Agency has never categorically denied the need to extend the protocol to two injections followed by the Covid inoculation programs of most countries, it has rightly criticized the recall campaigns of coverage in several Western countries for exacerbating the vaccine crisis in parts of the Third World. The agency has sometimes advocated additional shots for “priority groups”, without specifying who should be priority. Wednesday’s statement is the first WHO advice on additional doses. The guidelines are particularly important for India, which has closely followed the recommendations of the World Health Agency and is expected to pave the way for the country to expand its vaccination campaign.

Conversations between experts in the country on booster doses began almost at the same time as in the West. However, even until the first week of this month, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NTGI) spoke of a wait-and-see approach. The high rate of transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the latest study by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) which warns of declining immunity from vaccines should be sufficient reasons why the NTGI shows greater urgency. The agency’s job is complicated because there is no unanimity on whether Covishield, which has led the bulk of the country’s vaccination campaign, is the best immunity supplement for those who have received two vaccine doses. There is, however, cause for optimism. WHO has given emergency use approval to Covavax manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and at least two locally grown vaccines are in different phases of clinical trials. The task of the NTGI is now to establish which of the jabs works best as a booster.

The government also needs to work on saving booster doses with vaccine manufacturers. Last year, the two sides were not always on the same wavelength on pricing and production issues, leading to supply issues. Precautions should be taken from the outset to avoid such bottlenecks. Omicron is another sign that the virus is a moving target. However, we are also in a better position to protect people rather than resorting to blunt instruments like blockades. It is up to the government and its expert bodies to show both wisdom and haste.