March 21, 2023

With GoI warning states of an Omicron surge, it must also approve booster doses

With the Omicron variant rapidly becoming the dominant variant of concern in many countries and GoI warning state governments to firm up their emergency healthcare apparatus, the silence on booster doses comes as a surprise. A new Lancet study has just indicated that the protection offered by the Astrazeneca (Covishield) vaccine drops after three months. This would be worrying news for healthcare workers who were the first to get inoculated when India’s vaccination programme began in January.

The implication from the Lancet study is that the protection for healthcare workers from vaccines could be the lowest among vaccine recipients. Meanwhile, GoI’s communication to states warning that Omicron could be at least three times more infectious than the Delta variant warns of a coming deluge of cases if Omicron is able to escape the immunity accorded by previous Delta infections and vaccines.

Even if Omicron is milder, India’s uneven healthcare infrastructure, poor masking habits, difficulty of social distancing, and the large number of people in the country with comorbidities who are susceptible to severe Covid demands that a Covid surge of the kind witnessed during April and May must be averted at all costs. Instead of movement curbs like night curfews, what has been proven to work is vaccination. Approve boosters while there is still time.



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