‘Need of the hour is…’: Top expert weighs in over need for booster shots of Covid vaccine

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A top expert said on Sunday the government needs to focus on vaccinating more and more people against coronavirus disease rather than expanding the eligibility for booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines to get additional protection.

“If you ask me, the need of the hour is to attain 80 per cent coverage or more among the individuals with 2 doses of the vaccine. Reaching out to over 80 per cent of eligible individuals is public health priority now,” Dr Samiran Panda, the head of epidemiology and communicable diseases division with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), told news agency ANI.

So far, the cumulative doses administered in the country under the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive of the government has exceeded 1.165 billion. 

“So, policy formulation and decisions are based on scientific evidence. Right now, the scientific evidence from within the country does not underline the need for a booster dose. Public health considerations are on the priority now,” Panda said.

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The epidemiologist said that the Union ministry of health and family welfare is guided by scientific evidence and also advised by NTAGI. “These are advisory bodies and considered by the ministry and the respective departments to develop a policy,” he added.

The situation has been under control as India has been reporting nearly 11,000 Covid-19 cases every day. Government data shows that the daily rise in new Covid-19 infections has been below 20,000 for 44 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 147 consecutive days now.

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On Sunday, India logged 10,488 new infections in the last 24 hours taking the country’s total tally of Covid-19 cases to 34,510,413, according to the health ministry. The health ministry also said that with 313 fresh fatalities, the death toll has risen to 465,662.

The government has said it committed to amplifying India’s vaccine coverage and expanding its scope to the far ends of the country. The vaccination drive has been ramped up with the help of increased availability of Covid-19 vaccines, its advance visibility to the states and Union territories for enabling better planning by them and streamlining the supply chain, it has also said.

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