Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine for healthcare and frontline workers and ‘precautionary dose’ for those above the age of 60 years. As the second kind starts administering on January 10 beneficiaries above the age of 60 years with associated comorbidities and those who got their second vaccine dose nine months ago are qualified for the same.
The Indian Express has learnt from top government sources that the decision was taken based on the findings of five scientific studies carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad. The study suggests keeping an interval of none months between the second and third dose.
This means those who took the second dose not after April 10 this year, that is mainly healthcare and frontline workers who were the first to be inoculated from January 16 onwards and those above the age of 60 years and 45 plus with co-morbid conditions who were inoculated before April 10.
The ones who are eligible for precautionary dose will be reflected on the Co-win platform and the number will be ready by January 10. An announcement in this regard will be made soon.
As to why the Prime Minister used the word ‘precautionary dose’ and not booster dose as in other countries, the government source said that since two doses of a vaccine may not be enough to produce a sufficient level of antibodies as they are immunosuppressed, their vaccination is seemed incomplete and to complete it an additional dose will be administered. He further mentioned that in India the third shot is being given to the vulnerable group, those who are more exposed to the virus or has lower immunity as opposed to population-wide basis, the term ‘precautionary dose’ is being used.
Few members of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) were also opposed to booster dose as there is “insufficient pan-India” data on waning effect of vaccine across all age groups.