Dr Balram Bhargava, the head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has said that there is no scientific evidence to yet to support the necessity for a booster vaccination dosage to provide further protection against the coronavirus illness (Covid-19). “Administering the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all adult population, and ensuring that not only India, but the entire world gets vaccinated, is the priority of the government for now,” the ICMR director general (DG) said.
“More so, there is no scientific evidence so far to support the need for a booster vaccine dose against Covid-19,” Bhargava told news agency PTI on Sunday.
The senior scientist’s remarks come in the backdrop of recent reports that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), the Centre’s top expert panel on immunisation, is likely to meet in the last week of November to discuss key issues such as booster shots, as well as opening up the vaccination for children.
In recent days, several people, including Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, have urged the Union government to permit the boosters.
“The Centre cannot take a direct decision in such a matter. When the ICMR says that a booster shots should be given, we will consider it then. At present, the aim is to complete full vaccination of the target population. Once that is done, a decision on boosters will be taken. We have enough stocks available,” Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said recently.
According to official data, out of 940 million eligible adults, around 82 per cent have taken their first dose of a Covid-19 jab, while nearly 43 per cent have taken both doses, or, in other words, are fully inoculated.
The nationwide vaccination drive against this viral illness began on January 16 this year. Till now, nearly 1.17 billion doses have been administered.