With the recent outbreak of a new corona virus strain known as ‘Omicron,’ all eyes are on COVID booster doses. The growth of Omicron variant cases, which have already extended to 38 nations, including India, has left the globe torn between the hope of things getting better and the worry that the worst is yet to come.
Despite the fact that scientists are working feverishly to discover more about the Omicron variety, the usage of COVID booster doses has remained a hot topic of dispute. Much about the new Omicron form is unknown, including if it is more contagious, as some health officials believe, whether it causes people to get more seriously ill, and whether it can prevent the vaccine.
While calls for booster injections are mounting in response to concerns about the Omicron Covid variety, its durability, impact, and capacity to stop the infection are unknown, according to a paper published in Nature, according to news agency IANS. Omicron is suspected of undermining vaccination performance due to the existence of additional mutations. Vaccine makers are producing variant-specific boosters, according to the article, albeit this has yet to be proven.
WHAT ARE THE EXPERTS VIEWS ON THE BOOSTER DOSE?
With an eye on COVID booster dosages, many health experts stressed that vaccination remains the best prevention against any new rise of corona virus illnesses. Health experts believe that vaccinations with currently available injections could help prevent a surge in Omicron infections, but the question remains whether booster shots will be required indefinitely.
Prior to Omicron, it was considered that the immune system’s primary players — memory B and T cells — were in good shape, and that two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would provide long-term protection against serious sickness and death. The novel variation, however, could alter the immunological picture, according to the researchers.
Experts believe that while the extra vaccination shots may help bend the pandemic’s curve, they will not be able to stop it.
Pfizer’s booster dose considerably reduces the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe illnesses, according to real-world evidence from Israel and the United Kingdom. According to the data, the booster doses successfully lowered the number of daily cases in Israel.
The researchers discovered that a broad booster push could reduce the virus’s reproduction number, Rt, which is the number of persons a Covid-19 infected individual can go on to infect, by roughly 30%, based on national data from the United States. “It won’t put an end to a growing epidemic.” “But it can clearly take an epidemic that’s increasing at a very uncomfortable rate for a lot of people and turn it into either a declining epidemic or a much, much less awful pandemic,” the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Marm Kilpatrick said.
Scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) proposed using a booster dose of the Covishield COVID vaccination to combat emerging viral strains in a study. Five cases of the Omicron variety have been recorded in India thus far. After a guy returned from Tanzania and tested positive for the new version of the Omicron variant, Delhi registered the country’s fifth Omicron variant case on Sunday. The country’s first two cases were reported in Karnataka, with the third and fourth cases confirmed in Jamnagar, Gujarat, and Dombivli, Maharashtra.
Because of the high number of mutations, the Omicron variant has been recognized as a variant of concern, as early evidence suggests it may be more transmissible than other variants. Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) previously stated that the methods employed to combat the delta variety of covid should be utilized to combat the new omicron type as well.
WHICH COUNTRIES ARE ALREADY GIVING BOOSTER DOSES?
In light of the Omicron variant threat, numerous countries, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Germany, and Nigeria, are distributing COVID vaccination booster doses. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) advised vaccine booster doses for adults on November 24, with those over 40 receiving priority. On November 25, the European Commission proposed that all EU residents get COVID booster shots if they want to travel to another EU country next summer without having to go through Covid tests or quarantines.
The United States made COVID-19 booster doses available to all adults, with a special emphasis on those aged 50 and up. Anyone 18 or older can pick between a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dosage under the new vaccine restrictions in the United States. Pfizer COVID booster injections were first given to fully immunized individuals in Australia in November.
Britain recently disclosed real-world statistics indicating a similar increase in protection after administering boosters to middle-aged and older persons, and Israel has credited widespread boosters with helping to ward off a new wave of the virus.
COVID BOOSTER DOSE IN INDIA
There has been no official statement regarding the availability of COVID booster shots in India. The decision to use COVID booster doses has not to be confirmed by the government. Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stated last week in the Lok Sabha that any decision on COVID booster doses or vaccines for children will be taken only after a thorough assessment or recommended by an expert committee. This comes a day after opposition parties demanded clarification from the government on Covid booster shots. In the meantime, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 genome consortium (INSAGOG) recommended booster doses for anyone over the age of 40. “Because low levels of neutralizing antibodies from current vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralize Omicron, vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years and older, first targeting the most high-risk/high-exposure may be considered.”