NEW DELHI: Amid fresh scientific understanding that Covid-19 booster doses may cut the risk of death in the most vulnerable by at least 5%, the country’s top advisory body on immunisation is set to meet again to discuss additional doses and vaccination for kids.
Sources in the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said the panel is meeting this week to deliberate on additional shots of Covid-19 vaccines for those categorised as the high-risk and vulnerable population groups and those under 18 years of age.
“We are meeting again this week and all the latest evidence as well as the WHO policy and advisories on the Omicron variant will be discussed before we finalise our recommendation,” said a senior member of the panel. The last meeting of NTAGI, held on December 6, had not given any recommendations either on additional vaccinations or shots for kids, mainly due to difference of opinion among members and lack of concrete statistical evidence from India.
Recently, researchers from the Imperial College, London, and some other institutions estimated that prioritising boosters for the elderly and high-risk groups ahead of an Omicron wave could reduce deaths by an additional 5% compared to using those doses on younger age groups.
A senior epidemiologist associated with ICMR, meanwhile, said a policy that prioritises boosters for any special groups of populations over full vaccination for younger people may contradict India’s current policy of prioritising full vaccination for all adults first, as suggested by the WHO.
In India, demand for booster doses on the other hand, has intensified with many doctors and sections of public health experts citing concerns regarding waning immunity and growing evidence that boosters can help save the lives of the elderly, the immuno-compromised and those with chronic health ailments.