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Several doctors in Maharashtra have suggested the rollout of a booster Covid-19 dose for healthcare and frontline workers in view of a surge in infections in Europe, reported news agency PTI.

“The count of antibodies in people who have taken the second dose of vaccine some six to eight months ago is going down. We should administer a third dose or booster dose of vaccine to HCWs and FLWs, as they are more vulnerable to the infection," said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician of Bombay Hospital.

He said that people with co-morbid conditions also face similar challenges, and should be considered for the booster dose.

"European countries are already facing another round of Covid-19 cases. As we have introduced more relaxations, we should be ready to face a similar wave of infections somewhere in February or March 2022," said Bhansali. 

“Instead of reacting in panic, we should be prepared for the third wave in India. It is established that vaccine doses help increase immunity against the severity of the infection. It will be good if we think of a booster dose now," he added. 

Echoing these thoughts, a member of the Maharashtra state Covid-19 task force said: “Vaccine doses are available and we should utilise them to make our lives safer." 

Similar demands from West Bengal 

This comes days after the West Bengal Doctors Forum (WBDF) wrote to Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, requesting a third dose of the vaccine for frontline workers. 

In its two-page letter, the forum expressed apprehension that the efficacy of the two jabs which are being administered now will "not go further over time".

The medicos cited studies stating that administration of booster doses is an effective measure to prevent Covid infection by maintaining the vaccine efficacy.

“We are all aware that efficacy of vaccines goes no further over time and due to that, numerous healthcare workers may contract the disease in their duty line," said Rajib Pandey and Punyabrata Gun of the forum in their letter.

"At present, the number of active Covid cases in our country is low and under this circumstance on behalf of the medical fraternity, we appeal to you and your good office to issue an early advisory to commence the booster dose vaccination programme for all healthcare workers and frontline warriors as early as possible," they added.

Discussion on booster dose 

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) is likely to take up key issues regarding administering booster doses in its next meeting scheduled towards the end of this month. 

However, ICMR director-general Dr Balram Bhargava said on Monday there is no scientific evidence so far to support the need for a booster vaccine dose.

Further, he underlined that the completion of the second dose for India's adult population is the priority for the government for now.

Earlier, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had also said that the aim now is to complete the vaccination of the target population with two doses. After that, a decision on booster dose would be taken based on expert recommendation, he had said.

"The government cannot take a direct decision in such a matter. When the Indian Council of Medical Research and expert team will say that a booster dose should be given, we will consider it then," he said. 

With inputs from agencies. 

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