Booster COVID jab may be crucial with new COVID-19 variants emerging

INDIA – With the pandemic still far from over and mutations of the virus still expected to emerge in the near future, a need for a booster dose of the second generation COVID-19 vaccination might be adopted.

The chief of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), Dr Randeep Guleria has called for the need of India to adopt a second-generation booster jab as he believes that the human immunity tends to fall as time progresses.

The second- generation vaccines were developed to protect the population from the new emerging variants as it provides better immunity and has a higher overall efficacy rating.

“We will have second-generation vaccines which would be better in terms of the immunity they give, covering of the new variants and a having a better overall efficacy. Trails of booster vaccine shots are already going on. You will probably need a booster dose till the end of this year. But that’s only once the population is vaccinated, then the next step will be to administer a booster dose,” Dr Guleria said.

The call by the AIIMS chief comes at a time India is working on having vaccines designed for non-adults with Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila conducting trial studies on their potential candidates.

Bharat has been a key producer of Covaxin in India but has been meet with obstacles in refence to having the vaccine approved in other countries under the emergency use authorization.

In Brazil, the health regulatory body, ANVISA, scrapped off Bharat’s application seeking an emergency use authorization of its Covaxin.

The move comes after Anvisa was informed by Bharat Biotech that it’s Brazilian partner-Necessidade no longer has authorization to represent them in Brazil.

Prior to this Bharat had terminated the Memorandum of Understanding it had with Precisa Medicamentos and Envixia Pharmaceuticals LL.C for its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin for the Brazilian market.

This was an onset of a deal that was to have Bharat supply brazil with close to 20 million doses vaccines marred with controversies hence attracted investigations within the country.

Brazil then later had the clinical trials of Bharat suspended following Bharat’s withdrawal from the Memorandum of Understanding.

Bharat is at the moment also grappling with a production crisis as the state projects that the roll-out vaccination target will not be met due to Bharat’s lag.

India had undertaken one of the largest vaccination drives and has so far distributed close to 430 million doses of COVID-19 jabs.

The Indian government in May promised to have 516 million shots available by the end of July and ensure that an estimated 944 million adults are vaccinated by December.This however was not the case based on the latest supply projection for Bharat’s Covaxin.

Bharat Biotech will only supply 25 million doses this month and 35 million in August as a new production line in the southern city of Bengaluru is taking time to come online.

The government is counting on 500 million doses of another vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and 400 million doses from Bharat Biotech between August and December for its vaccination campaign.

Nearly 88% of all vaccine doses administered in India to date have been SII’s Covishield shot, a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The government expects the company to raise supplies of its Covishield vaccine to about 120 million doses in August from 100 million doses in June.

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