Hyderabad: As more and more new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus being reported, public health experts, epidemiologists and vaccine specialists in the country are now discussing the possibility of having ‘booster shots’ of Covid vaccines to enhance protection from the virus for a few more months or even a year. The nationwide Covid vaccination drive was launched on January 16 and the beneficiaries in the first phase, which includes healthcare workers and senior citizens, are already six months since the first dose of the Covishield vaccine. A booster jab for such individuals has the potential to extend the immunity against new emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, experts have argued.
According to senior doctors in Hyderabad, at some point in the near future, as the protection provided by Covid vaccines wane, there will be demand for booster shots among people looking to extend protection from the new mutants of SARS-CoV-2. Despite constraints in production and availability of Covid vaccines, there is already a talk on the possibility of booster shots, especially after a recent recommendation from Germany that people who received AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield in India) as their first jab can go for Pfizer or Moderna to boost protection. Countries like the UK already have started preparing ground to roll out booster jabs for their population from September.
In a recent interaction with media persons, Priya Abraham, Director of National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, advocated a booster dose for long-term immunity against the emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2. The Director pointed out that Covaxin could be a booster shot as it had been observed that the vaccine was efficient against new variants.
Recent studies are indicating that Covishield additional booster shots can produce high amounts of antibodies, which can be sustained for one more year. In fact, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have recently started trials to test a booster vaccine in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and Poland.
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, US, during a recent media interaction was quoted that one should not assume that vaccines can provide indefinite durability of protection.
“When protection wanes enough, a booster shot may be necessary. These shots are essentially another dose of the Covid-19 vaccine meant to ‘boost’ the immune response if the initial protection subsides. Or, if a new coronavirus variant emerges that the current vaccines can’t protect against, a booster shot may provide extra protection against that specific strain,” the celebrated doctor was quoted.
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