COVID-19 | Booster dose: govt bodies deliberate on scientific evidences related to schedule

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The currently available COVID-19 tests and knowledge do not mention about the duration of immunity and protection against reinfection that is required to differentiate reinfection from persistent virus shedding, since the number of people testing positive more than once does not necessarily indicate reinfection, the Health Ministry said in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha on the cases of those who have been reported as COVID-19 positive more than once.

Responding to the question, Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar remarked in the House earlier this week that the current isolation, quarantine, treatment, and other public health measures remained valid in case of reinfection also.

In response to a question on booster dose of vaccines, she stated that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) and National Expert Group on vaccine administration for Covid (NEGVAC) were deliberating and considering scientific evidences related to the dose schedule.

Dr. Bharati noted that there were cases of reinfection. She pointed out that SARS- CoV-2 reinfection had been published in the journal of Epidemiology and Infection, Cambridge University Press. “The study has concluded that while COVID-19 reinfection is still rarely reported, nonetheless, immunity should not be assumed and public health measures such as physical distancing, hand-hygiene and use of masks should be followed after recovery from the first event of infection,’’ she asserted.

On booster dose, she observed, “So far, no specific recommendation regarding COVID-19 vaccine booster dose has been made by NTAGI or NEGVAC. There are at present no recommendation on booster dose from the World Health Organisation”. The vaccines have been developed very recently and, therefore, scientific evidence was still evolving globally on the duration of protection.

Covaxin facility augmentation

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, was supporting the implementation of ‘Mission COVID Suraksha- the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission’. Under the mission, facility augmentation for Covaxin production was being supported, whereby Bharat Biotech and Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, (Mumbai); Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), (Hyderabad); and Bharat Immunologicals Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL), (Bulandshahr), were being supported.

Additionally, technology transfer for Covaxin production to a consortium of partners, including Hester Biosciences and OmniBRx Biotechnologies Pvt. Ltd., led by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC), Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of Gujarat, was being facilitated by the Department of Biotechnology, she stressed.

“These efforts are expected to enhance the production of Covaxin in the coming months. The Central Government has also provided 100% advance to domestic vaccine manufacturers in respect of procurement orders placed with them. These funds can be used by such manufacturers for their capacity augmentation. The Central Government has also provided advance to one of the vaccine manufacturer -- Biological E for ‘At-risk manufacturing’ of COVID-19 vaccine. Regulatory norms have also been streamlined for approval of vaccines in India that have received Emergency Use License (EUL) by FDA of United States, MHRA of the United Kingdom, PMDA of Japan or WHO-EUL,’’ said the information released by the Health Ministry.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:00:19 AM |

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