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New Delhi: Noting that in certain states individuals have taken booster doses and different covid-19 vaccines flouting current covid-19 vaccination guidelines, the central government has asked states to ensure that the “irresponsible practice of wasting “scarce commodity" is immediately stopped.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and National Expert Group on vaccine administration for Covid (NEGVAC) are deliberating and considering scientific evidence related to the dose schedule of covid-19 vaccines. NTAGI in a recent meeting held discussions on the practice and sought explanations from the states.

“There are reports of individuals particularly health personnel taking additional doses or taking another covid-19 vaccine after completing the schedule. The reports came from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and some other states. These people have got serological testing after having the vaccine, some of the people have got breakthrough covid-19 infection due to which they have got worried and some doctors have been prescribing it," Dr N.K. Arora, Chairperson, NTAGI told Mint.

Studies have shown that in some individuals, it takes around three months for the development of antibodies, although adequate protection due to cellular immune system may still be present post 14 days of vaccination, he said further.

“Therefore, people going for additional dose are wasting “scarce commodity". People need to be informed about this aspect clearly. Firstly, it is important to provide vaccines to those who need it," said Arora.

Further, due to program error, Arora said, individuals have received vaccines produced by different manufacturers as first and second doses, respectively. Some reports have come from different states. There are studies ongoing in different parts of the world including the UK, where Covishield followed by mRNA vaccine had been given. There is a need to undertake well-planned vaccine interchangeability studies," said Arora.

The central government on Tuesday indicated that currently, it is not considering a booster dose of covid-19 vaccines as scientific evidence regarding the duration of protection is still evolving globally.

“So far, no specific recommendation regarding Covid-19 vaccine booster dose has been made by NTAGI or NEGVAC. There are, at present no recommendations on booster doses from the World Health Organization. The covid-19 vaccines have been developed very recently, therefore, scientific evidence is still evolving globally regarding the duration of protection," Bharat Pawar, minister of state health and family welfare informed parliament on Tuesday.

There have been various views over booster dose of covid-19 across the world. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group is considering whether fully vaccinated Americans with weakened immune systems need a booster dose of the covid-19 vaccines. Parallelly, the European Medicines Agency recently said that it was too early to determine whether more than the two shots of the currently available covid-19 vaccines will be required, adding it was confident, for now, that the established regimen was sufficient.

As mutations of the coronavirus emerge, the beneficiaries who have been vaccinated may still need a booster with a second-generation covid-19 shot, said Dr Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

"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," Guleria said.

Several Indian states recently asked the government to provide a booster dose of covid-19 vaccines to their healthcare workers as it has already been over 6 months after they received their full vaccination. India’s cumulative covid-19 vaccination neared 45 crores on Wednesday. India reported over 43,654 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with 641 deaths.

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