Should India Consider Booster Shots?

The number of Omicron cases in India has surpassed 200. According to the World Health Organization, Omicron is a highly transmissible variant, even more so than the previously discovered Delta variant, and it has also been shown to evade the immunity provided by existing vaccines.

As research regarding the transmissibility and severity of the new variant, Omicron, continues, there has been a growing call for booster shots. Nations like the United Kingdom are now advocating booster shots to increase vaccine efficacy against Omicron.

By Team Mojo, 24 Dec 2021

Prof Virander Chauhan, Prof Polly Roy, and Dr Rajeev Jayadevan joined the discussion at Mojo about Booster shots and Omicron.

According to the new Harvard study, the two doses of US vaccines were ineffective against Omicron. Prof Polly Roy, professor of Virology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said that the booster shots for any vaccine raise our antibody level. She believes that the longevity, sustainability of antibodies is very important. The more antibodies we have, the better our chances of avoiding infection.

Prof Virander Chauhan, a scientist, stated that the evolutionary pathways and pressures of these viruses should be monitored. Vaccination only protects you from becoming infected easily, and if you do become infected, it does not multiply as quickly as it would if you were unvaccinated. Therefore, vaccination campaigns should be ramped up even more. “There is no need to panic, but you should take every precaution possible,” he said.

Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, Ex-President of the IMA, believed that boosters should be debated on the basis of evidence. Unfortunately, there has been plenty of push for boosters from individuals who don’t really understand immunology very well on public health.

“Every country has its own strategies, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and evidence. So one country’s strategy need not necessarily work for another. As far as India’s situation goes, we have good evidence on the ground that our vaccines are doing a fantastic job in terms of keeping serious diseases and deaths down by a factor of well over 10 to 17 times compared to unvaccinated people, and that has not declined,” said Dr Rajeev.