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The third dose will be the same vaccines as was given to them previously.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that there is no need for new registration for beneficiaries of the precautionary Covid-19 vaccine dose. "Those who have taken two doses of Covid-19 vaccine can directly take an appointment or walk-in to any vaccination centre", said the ministry.

vaccine The scheduled for the precautionary dose from the ministry is expected on Saturday. | Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

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The Conversation/wikipedia

Omicron dominants Delta variant.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid, which has so far been detected in more than 100 countries so far, may help the world get rid of the Delta strain that claimed so many lives across the globe, said health experts on Tuesday. Omicron, first detected from southern Africa in late November, has become dominant in several countries including the US and the UK, outpacing the previously dominant Delta variant, which was considered to be the dominant strain in many countries until recently.

While Omicron is known to cause only mild disease, Delta has been more lethal leading to increased hospitalisation with drop in oxygen levels, pneumonia, and death. "Omicron is a milder wave and will replace Delta, and may be good for the world," Dr. Vasant Nagvekar, Covid task force member of Maharashtra government, told IANS.

"Omicron is more transmissible, and it could also be immune-evasive (cause breakthrough infections in previously infected or vaccinated). But so far, there is no proof that it produces more severe infections," added Nagvekar, who is also Consultant, Infectious Diseases at Global Hospital, Mumbai.

The early data from South Africa has shown that most patients are younger and the variant produces milder infections. "For now the variant also appears to be stable, with high transmissibility but low virulence, which perhaps explains the lack of surge in hospitalisations and deaths where it was earlier reported," Nagvekar said.

Meanwhile, what we need is vigilance, improving border surveillance, genomic sequencing, as well as vaccination cover, he noted. "The best option for getting out of this phase of the pandemic is to ensure that people everywhere are fully vaccinated. As the virus continues to spread, there remain opportunities for new variants to emerge," Brian Wahl, Assistant Scientist, Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, US, told IANS.

"This is why it is so important to increase coverage of both doses in India and in countries where vaccine coverage is currently low, like in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa," he added.

Meanwhile, with more than 30 mutations on its spike protein, Omicron has the potential of evading vaccines as well as previous Covid infection induced immunity. Several studies have shown that two doses of existing Covid vaccines may not be effective against Omicron, while booster doses have shown promise.

India has also announced the roll out of booster doses, starting with healthcare workers from January next year. "The protection provided by many vaccines can be reduced over time. Booster doses can help bring protection back up. However, the frequency with which boosters might be required is not known," Wahl said.

However, Nagvekar stated that "a booster dose, even if it works, is just a temporary fix. We can't keep on taking boosters every six months and for every variant of concern that emerges. Equitable vaccine distribution, especially a vaccine that covers the most recent variant of concern is a possible and practical solution in the long term."

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The Centre has initiated a study of 3,000 individuals who received their both doses of Covid vaccines to determine the need for booster dose amid the looming scare of Omicron.

The Centre has initiated a study of 3,000 individuals who received their both doses of Covid vaccines to determine the need for booster dose amid the looming scare of Omicron.

The study will be conducted by the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) under the Department of Biotechnology. The participants who have already received their both doses of Covid vaccines will be given booster doses to determine the impact on their immunity level. The study is expected to cover all three vaccines used in India -- Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V.

According to a source, the study will include people above 40 years of age, below 40 years of age, people infected with Covid-19 prior to vaccination, and people with co-morbid conditions. The hospitals involved in the study will be submitting the report on blood samples along with the analysis on the requirement of booster doses in India, said the source.

Amid the everyday rise of Omicron cases in India, the need for booster dose has been voiced by many institutions. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had earlier said that the decision on booster dose in India will be taken based on scientific data and analysis. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is expected to meet in the first week of January to take a call on the same.


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The mRNA vaccines induced antibodies. Pixabay

People who have recovered from Covid-19 require only one vaccine dose. A second jab is important for those who have not had Covid-19 to reach strong immunity, suggests a study. The study, led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in the US, found that Covid survivors had a robust antibody response after the first mRNA vaccine dose, but the little immune benefit was seen after the second dose.

On the other hand, those who did not have Covid-19 — called Covid naive — did not have a full immune response until after receiving their second vaccine dose, reinforcing the importance of completing the two recommended doses for achieving strong levels of immunity. Two doses are optimal to induce strong antibody and B cell responses in patients who are immunologically naive for SARS-CoV-2, and antibodies induced by the vaccination could protect against the more infectious and deadly South African variant, said the researchers.

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