MUMBAI: While debating on booster shots, the central health authorities should consider that
early recipients-senior citizens, people with comorbidities or health and frontline workers-got
their two shots within a six-week period as against the current ideal period of 84 days, said
experts.

“Studies across the world have shown that a longer dose interval is needed to maximize the
antibody response,” said public health specialist Dr Swapneil Parikh. As the early recipients
got fully vaccinated within a short period, their antibody levels would have dipped by now and
they need a booster shot soon, said experts.

In May, India changed the gap between two vaccine shots (Covishield) from six to eight
weeks to the present 12-16 weeks. Last week, central health officials said an analysis of sero
prevalence studies had shown that the extended gap between two doses of Covishield had
resulted in better immune response among the majority of the vaccinated people.

There has been a demand from many quarters to provide the third shot-or a booster shot as
some call it-to the most vulnerable population, including patients with chronic illnesses such
as cancer and/or senior citizens. Even people who face exposure to the virus such as
healthcare and frontline workers should get the next shot soon.

“I have a nasty feeling that India will only roll out third doses for the clinically vulnerable and
highly exposed, once transmission starts to skyrocket again. That will be too late,” said Dr
Parikh, adding that we need to start right away.

The US, which began giving booster shots to the 65-plus age group, decided on Friday that
every adult over 18 years of age will now be eligible for a booster.

Several European nations too provide booster shots.

Dr Rahul Pandit, who is a member of the state government’s task force on Covid, said that a
decision on booster shots would be taken at the central level within the next two weeks.
“People who are immune-compromised such as cancer patients would need a booster shot,”
he said.

A BMC official said senior citizens got their first shot in March and second in April.
“The antibody levels in many of them would have waned by now. Seniors who have comorbid
conditions would be particularly vulnerable,” he said. On Saturday, 66,422 people took the
Covid shot in Mumbai, taking the number of fully vaccinated people to 6.1 crore (66%) so far.

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