Source: This post is based on the article “Three doses not two: Israel sets new benchmark for full vaccination. It is on India’s horizon as well” published in the Times of India on 1st September 2021.
Relevance: To understand the immunization process.
Synopsis: With Israel adopting a 3 dose policy, what should be India’s policy going forward?
Recently, Israel stated that every Israeli over 12 years is now entitled to a booster shot after the second dose. Other countries from the UK to Indonesia are also planning to offer booster doses to vulnerable groups.
Why has Israel adopted this Policy?
It is well known that antibody responses weaken over time, especially with new viruses rapidly mutating and producing new versions.
An Oxford University study of 3,391,645 test results found that – 92% and 69% efficacy is seen two weeks after the second Pfizer and AstraZeneca doses. However, after 90 days efficacy slips to 78% and 61% respectively.
What should India do?
With more than 65.26 crore vaccine doses administered, multiple studies will be helpful in getting an optimal handle on complex efficacy issues. For Covishield, India can take inputs on policymaking from international studies. For Covaxin, we have our own data.
Regarding the third dose, ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) must take the lead and conduct field-level studies.
What should be the priority of India?
For India, the first priority is giving two doses to all adults. India must ramp up the vaccine supply and vaccinating all eligible Indians with two doses before formulating a policy for 3 doses. To achieve that, large hospitals also need to step up vaccination drives.
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