NIV director urges people, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Don't experiment with health, take booster dose: NIV director urges people

Kolkata: National Institute of Virology Director Dr Priya Abraham on Thursday said the present Covid-19 variant, Omicron, can escape antibodies formed after two doses of vaccination, and urged people to take the booster shot to strengthen immunity. Abraham said the ultimate goal of the scientists is to make a pan coronavirus vaccine that can fight all variants of the virus.

“It is very necessary to take the booster dose. A large number of people think that they have been naturally infected and there is no need to take the vaccine or the booster dose. Our data has shown that irrespective of the variant, the antibody titre has gone up a little after two doses and after taking the booster,” she said.

The antibodies formed following vaccination doses start declining after four to six months and booster shots help in enhancing them, the NIV scientist told reporters on the sidelines of a programme here.

“Booster doses will not prevent one from being infected but a mild infection is always better than hospitalisation, getting into the ICU…. In the second wave, many people died. I don’t think people should experiment by saying that they will not take the vaccines or the boosters,” she said.

According to central government data, so far less than 1 per cent of the target population of 77 crore in the 18-59 age group have been administered the precautionary dose.

Taking the booster dose increases the antibody titre some more notches and that is why the government is encouraging people to take it, Abraham said.

As a part of its ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav‘ celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, the Centre has announced that all adults would be able to get free booster doses of the coronavirus vaccines at government centres under a special drive for 75 days starting Friday.

To a question, Abraham said, “Studies are required to know whether boosters will be needed in future. There is no guidance so far to take the fourth, fifth or sixth dose. The government of India takes decisions based on studies,” she said.

A pan coronavirus vaccine which will be able to fight all variants of the disease is the long-term goal, the NIV official said.

“Scientists should build a vaccine that has broader composition so that the immune response is also broader and individuals are also protected from other coronaviruses in future,” she said.

Abraham, who is here to give a talk on “From virus discovery to the vaccine – a story from ICMR – National Institute of Virology”, said the current variant ‘Omicron’ is mutating and would continue infecting people though the impact would be mild in case of those who are vaccinated.

“Otherwise, as we saw in the second wave, people will get serious infections,” she said.

On the monkeypox situation in the country, Abraham said, “Periodically we get suspect cases. But there is none (confirmed case) at the moment.”

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