No Consensus On Additional Doses, Jabs For Children At Top Panel Meet

India now has 23 cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid and the panel's decisions are important in this context.

No Consensus On Additional Doses, Jabs For Children At Top Panel Meet

Panel members said a decision on boosters was not on the agenda of the meeting

New Delhi:

At a long meeting on Monday held amid the rise of Omicron cases, the government's top vaccine advisory panel failed to arrive at a consensus on a booster dose or vaccination of children.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) met to discuss whether to allow an additional dose for immunocompromised people, or those more at risk from Covid, But no final recommendation was made, according to reports. The group is also expected to come out with a policy on inoculating children - the only group left out of vaccinations so far.

"The meeting put light on COVID-19 vaccination, additional doses and vaccination for children but due to no consensus over the issues final recommendation couldn't be made," news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.

India now has 23 cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid and the panel's decisions are important in this context.

Panel members said a decision on boosters was not on the agenda of the meeting. They draw a distinction between a booster dose and an additional dose. The booster dose, they say, is given after a predefined period after the primary two-dose have been given while an additional dose is given to those people who have problems in their immune system, which makes them more vulnerable to infection.

If two doses is not enough to build immunity, an additional dose is given.

The government has, for now, held off on boosters. Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had recently told parliament that NTAGI and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) were deliberating and considering scientific evidence related to this aspect.

Adar Poonawala's Serum Institute of India (SII) had recently asked for approval for Covishield as a booster dose. Last month, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) also recommended a booster shot for 40-plus with preference to high-risk and high-exposure populations. But the group clarified later that the recommendation was not for the national immunisation programme.

.