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No need for 3rd dose before 9 months of 2nd vaccine, health officials tell parliamentary panel

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Officials from the health ministry, including Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Dr Balram Bhargava, told the committee that the central government is not calling it the ‘booster dose’ and what it should be called is the ‘third dose’.

No need for 3rd dose before 9 months of 2nd vaccine, health officials tell parliamentary panel
A department-related standing committee for health and family welfare, led by professor Ramgopal Yadav, on Thursday held a meeting on crucial issues concerning the health of citizens and the challenges faced by them due to the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
The meeting was organised “to hear the views of secretaries, department of health and family welfare and department of health research” on the “challenges posed by the omicron variant of Covid-19, the strategy adopted and the measures taken to combat the same”, as part of examination of the subject, ‘Vaccine Development, Distribution Management and Mitigation of Pandemic COVID 19’.
ICMR DG and Health Secretory Rajesh Bhushan and Joint Secretary-health Lav Agarwal were among the officers who were present for the meeting.
The committee, under the chairmanship of Ramgopal Yadav, lauded the efforts of the health ministry in this entire fight against Covid-19 and the way the vaccination drive has progressed.
The committee also congratulated the health ministry for the swift approach to deal with an unknown enemy like omicron and the exemplary efforts in the last two weeks.
Sources told CNN-News18 that members asked about India’s plan of starting booster doses, given the fact that several countries had already started administering them. Officials from the health ministry, including Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Dr Balram Bhargava, told the committee that the central government is not calling it the ‘booster dose’ and what it should be called is the ‘third dose’.
It was also said to the committee that the additional dose should be taken not before nine months of taking the second dose. As of now, India has not developed or gotten any research or made any policy for administering the additional third dose to its people.
The members were also conveyed that additional research and data is awaited before India can start administering vaccine to children.
Members were informed that at present there are 23 cases of Omicron in the country and a total of 2,303 cases of Omicron exist at present across the globe in 57 countries.
Denmark, they were told, has been one of the worst hit countries with over 800 cases. Out of the 23 cases in India, 10 are from Maharashtra, 9 from Rajasthan, 2 from Karnataka and one each from Gujarat and Delhi.
So far, there has been no data to show deaths due to this variant in any part of the world, including India. In fact, those patients who were tested positive in India for omicron have shown very light symptoms and, in some cases, been asymptomatic, the officers said.
One of the members in the committee asked the officers about the reason behind the increasing number of cases witnessed among the educated and the elite, and not among people from poor backgrounds. Sources said that officers said that in the urban areas most of the people have been double vaccinated and have after that let their guard down and flouted all possible covid norms.
Another member asked what is the government doing to make sure people do not get lax as what happened before the second wave of Covid and the panic which followed.
Officers from the health ministry informed the member that the government has been making constant efforts to publicise the importance of covid protocols and the need for every individual eligible to take the vaccine.
Members also expressed their reservations on the cost of the RT-PCR test, especially at the airports where it is made mandatory for travellers. Ministry officials informed the committee that the matter is under consideration and soon and update can be expected on reduced cost of the test.
The government is making efforts to do research regarding the nature of the omicron virus, its impact, symptoms and how effective vaccine can prove against it, the members were told. Genome sequencing would hold the key to a lot of these questions.
Members also suggested to the committee that it is important for the health ministry to hold timely briefings so that any myths and misconceptions can be dealt with at the earliest.
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