Consider booster dose for those above 40, says Indian genome scientists as Bengal to start trials soon

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By PTI

NEW DELHI: Top Indian genome scientists have recommended a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines for those above 40 years with preference to high-risk and high-exposure population.

The recommendation was made in the weekly bulletin of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG), a network of national testing labs set up by the government to monitor genomic variations of COVID-19.

“Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years of age and over, first targeting the most high-risk / high-exposure may be considered,” the INSACOG bulletin said.

The recommendation came amid demands for a booster dose of covid vaccines by lawmakers during a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the pandemic situation in the country.

The INSACOG said genomic surveillance will be critical for early detection of the presence of this variant, to enable necessary public health measures.

It also recommended monitoring travel to and from the known affected areas, and contact tracing of COVID-19 cases with an epidemiological link to the affected areas has been implemented along with increased testing.

“Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years of age and over, first targeting the most high-risk / high-exposure may be considered, since low levels of neutralising antibodies from current vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralise Omicron, although risk of severe disease is still likely to be reduced,” it said.

The West Bengal government is planning to soon conduct trials of COVID-19 booster shots in the metropolis, and has started feasibility tests at different medical establishments, a senior official of the health department said on Friday.

Six hospitals have come forward so far, expressing their willingness to be part of the trials, he said.

“We are conducting feasibility tests in the city, where we are planning to have trials of the booster dose,” the official said.

School of Tropical Medicine, College of Medicine & Sagore Dutta Hospital, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College & Hospital are the three government medical facilties that have evinced interest in this regard.

“We have also written to the Drugs Controller General of India, and hope to get a positive reply,” he said.

Priority would be given to those in the healthcare sector for trials of the booster shots.

“Around 600 people will be chosen primarily from the sector,” the official added.



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