COVID vaccine booster dose should be given to people with comorbidities, said an expert.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Padma Srivastava, Head of the Department, Neurosurgery, AIIMS, New Delhi, said, “We do not have a consensus on when and what booster dose people should receive. The first thing that comes when you vaccinate is called immune memory. And, the immune memory is based on two basic systems, humoral and cellular. Roughly it is T cell and B cell. When it comes to antibodies, they are a type of immune memory. These protective cells can recognise a virus and fight and kill it. That is how you stay protected in laymen terms.”
Dr Padma further said that there are studies that suggest the waning of antibodies after six months of vaccination. She said some countries have started booster doses for those who are vulnerable to infections.
“World Health Organisation (WHO) and a lot of countries have now started giving boosters to that sub-sect of people who are vulnerable to get infected, who are vulnerable to get seriously infected, and who are vulnerable to get hospitalised and have a high degree of problems if they are infected. This subset of people includes old age comorbid, healthcare professionals and those coming into contact with an infectious process,” she said.
Dr Padma said in India 35 per cent of India’s population are fully vaccinated adding that a considerable section including children still needs to be vaccinated fully.
“So when you are comparing the number of doses available, and the number of people who have to get vaccinated, then you can decide to give booster dose to people who are already vaccinated. So that is an ethical question. And that I think is being deliberated upon by a lot of think tanks in the government and I am sure they take the right decision,” she said.
On the subsection of people who are vaccinated but come under comorbidities, Dr Padma said, “We have a large section of diabetes patients, and we have people who are on steroids and cancer therapeutics. So there are some people who are on medicines whose basic immunity is down. And there is enough literature now that says even after vaccines, these people are not producing enough antibodies. So in these cases, they can be given booster doses even before six months. This has been done in certain parts of the world. So in that section, there is a clamour and there is scientific evidence.”
“We need to also understand how much of it is ethical when a large section is yet to be vaccinated. Then there is also some caveat. There are some vaccines that are nearing expiry, and you need to quickly deliver them. So in that situation, can we quickly deliver if it is possible to some people who would have these booster doses. So these are all operational and logistic issues,” Dr Padma added.