No final consensus on additional vaccine dose & inoculation of kids at NTAGI meet
New Delhi, Dec 7: The issues of administering 'additional' dose of Covid vaccine to immunocompromised individuals and inoculation of children were deliberated upon in a meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) on Monday, official sources said.
However, no consensus was learnt to have been reached by the members and no final recommendation has been made on these issue as of now, the source said.
Sources also said the issue of booster dose was not on the agenda of the meeting as studies need to be conducted to ascertain its need and value.
An additional dose of a vaccine is different from a booster dose. While a booster dose is given to an individual after a pre-defined period when the immune response due to primary vaccination is presumed to have declined, additional shot is given to immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals when the primary schedule of inoculation does not provide adequate protection from the disease, officials explained.
"The issue of administering additional dose of COVID-19 to immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals and vaccination of children against COVID-19 were deliberated upon in the meeting of NTAGI.
Cancer patients on therapy, transplants patients and AIDS patients are among those who come under the immunocompromised and immunosuppressed categories and need additional dose of vaccine to improve their protection. Even against the backdrop of the emergence of new variants of coronavirus, like Omircron, vaccination remains one of the strongest pillars of protection against disease and infection, experts said.
Recently, Serum Institute of India (SII) sought from the Drug Regulator approval for Covishield as a booster dose against COVID-19.
In its bulletin on November 29, the INSACOG recommended a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines for those above 40 years with preference to high-risk and high-exposure populations. On Saturday, however, it said their recommendation was not for the national immunisation programme as many more scientific experiments are required to assess its impact.
About administering booster doses, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has told the Lok Sabha that the NTAGI and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) are deliberating and considering scientific evidence related to it.
Answering a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Health Ministry has said that while there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on the latest variant, some of the mutations reported may decrease the efficacy of the jabs. It however underscored that definitive evidence for new variant's increased remission and immune evasion is awaited.
However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved. Hence, vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease and vaccination is crucial.
If eligible one should get vaccinated, it said. Omicron has been declared a 'variant of concern' by the World Health Organisation based on the observed mutations, their predicted features of increased transmission and immune evasion, and preliminary evidence of detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, such as increased reinfections.