Jan 18
Here’s a quick update on COVID-19 as on 2 January 2022 by L&T’s Medical & Welfare Department
THE month of December 2021 saw a steady rise in the number COVID-19 cases, including the newest variant – Omicron. In view of the spike, even if one is double vaccinated, it is necessary to stick to COVID-appropriate behaviour such masking up, maintaining physical distance and washing hands frequently.
The Government of India has approved vaccination for the 15–18-year age group from 3 January. Also, with effect from 10 January, it has approved booster dose for healthcare and frontline workers and for people above 60 years having co-morbidities.
Why are boosters recommended?
Booster doses are a way to prime the immune system to fight a pathogen after the initial vaccination. They are routinely administered to prevent disease such as polio, rabies, hepatitis and common flu. COVID-19 vaccines were introduced almost a year ago. Though the vaccines prevent severe illness, their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 symptomatic infection reduces over time. Data from the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) show that the antibodies wane from six to nine months after one has taken two doses. With fears that COVID-19 may persist, boosters may help prevent infection and the virus’ severity.
Which population groups need boosters?

Though countries in the West have recommended boosters for all adult population, the evidence to use them is highly tilted towards the elderly population, those who are immunocompromised and frontline workers. WHO has also recommended boosters for those jabbed with the inactivated virus vaccines (by companies such as Sinovac, Bharat Biotech). For the immune-compromised and the elderly, the booster is a way to keep generating antibody response. Boosters for healthcare workers ensure their protection and thus lower the burden on the healthcare system.

What other countries are doing?

India has recommended boosters (precautionary dose) nine months after the second vaccination. The US CDC has recommended boosters after two doses of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/Moderna) and two months after first dose of adenovirus vaccine (J&J). The UK recommends boosters after three months and Singapore after five months.

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