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Dr NK Arora, Chairman, COVID working group NTAGI (File Photo/ANI)
Dr NK Arora, Chairman, COVID working group NTAGI (File Photo/ANI)

Rollout of booster dose discussed in NTAGI right from Nov 2021, says Dr NK Arora

By Shalini Bhardwaj | Updated: Jul 19, 2022 22:25 IST

New Delhi [India], July 19 (ANI): National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) Chairman Dr NK Arora refuted the media reports that there were lapses in permission for the rollout of precautionary doses and said that issue of the rollout of precaution doses or additional doses has been discussed right from the beginning of October-November 2021.
In an interview with ANI, Arora said, "This issue of precaution dose or additional dose has been discussed right from the beginning from October-November 2021. And from time to time guidelines have been modified to see that the maximum number of people with various kinds of comorbidities are benefited."
"In October 2021, we had already covered 100 crore dose mark and by October to November, 60-70 per cent of the adult population had received at least one dose and about 50 per cent two doses. There was a discussion starting at that time in our COVID-19 working group in the context of WHO recommendation that inactivated vaccine recipients should receive an additional dose," Dr Arora explained.
"In addition, there were also recommendations that those WHO have immunosuppressed and immunocompromised state have comorbidities like heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, they should also be given an additional dose. So, in view of that, the working group had recommended to the govt that all individuals with comorbidities should be given an additional dose of COVID vaccine," he said.
"This was also mentioned that in people above the age of 60 years, almost 50 per cent of them have sub comorbidities, they should be given additional doses. It is in this view, that in January 2022, the government of India started precaution dose in view of the programmatic requirements because it is difficult to identify people with illness in the programme setting and then go for vaccination," Arora added.
"Initially it was for those with more than above 60 years, healthcare providers and other frontline workers. ln March all adults in the age group of 18 years to 59 years were also allowed to take precaution dose," he said.
He further explained about the ICMR study that revealed breakthrough infections surge after Omicron infection, "The ICMR had shown data that breakthrough infection has been around 6 to 7 per cent before the onset of Omicron wave and after the Omicron it became anywhere between 20 and 30 per cent every month."
"So, initially the interval between the primary dose and the precaution dose was nine months. But recently when Indian data was presented that showed that at six months the antibody levels are falling down and when the booster is given benefits, and also the global data. In last few weeks guidance was also coming that interval between primary dose and precaution dose will be reduced," he explained on reduction of duration from nine to six months.
"Free vaccination of precaution vaccination has started. Initially, it was all paid but now it is free. And I would request everybody that they should come forward and take the benefit of this opportunity," he emphasized taking precautionary doses. (ANI)