WHO recommends booster COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised

"The recommendation is for a third vaccination," said WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that immunocompromised people be given an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine, due to their higher risk of breakthrough infections after standard immunisation, news agency Reuters reported. WHO vaccine director Kate O'Brien, referring to people with lower immunity due to other conditions, told a news briefing: "The recommendation is for a third vaccination, an additional vaccination in the primary series and again that is based on the evidence showing that the immunogenicity and evidence on breakthrough infections is highly disproportionately represented by those people."

Debate on boosters in India

Several scientists from India had said the priority must be to ensure that more people are inoculated with at least their first jab, rather than ensuring a booster dose. Immunologist Satyajit Rath said that less than 15 per cent of Indian adults have been vaccinated with two doses, and this clearly means that all Indians who are more vulnerable to infection have not yet necessarily gotten two doses.

"I therefore think that it is ethically premature to begin planning a third dose to a fortunate category of people at this stage, Rath, from New Delhi's National Institute of Immunology (NII)," he told PTI. "It is also pragmatically premature to do so, since we have no really clear idea of who is 'more vulnerable to infection'. We do know that some co-morbid categories are more vulnerable to serious illness, but two doses of the current vaccines currently protect quite well against that," he said.

Immunologist Vineeta Bal agreed, saying India should not think of providing booster doses at this stage when about 40 per cent of the eligible population is yet to receive the first dose.

The science relating to the use of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines is still evolving and the developments are being closely watched, the Centre had said on Thursday. NITI Aayog Member (Health) V.K. Paul said there are several studies that are looking into the subject of booster doses. "This is an evolving science and a paradigm of information...that data is still emerging. We are watching this science very very carefully through our NTAGI system. We know that COVAXIN has done a study on booster doses and those results can be available anytime. We are also aware that although the antibody can disappear, the presence of T-cell immunity is a huge protection that also has to be accounted for," he said.

-Inputs from PTI