Noting that the decision on the third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for all adults will be taken based on scientific need, the government on Thursday, February 11, said emerging knowledge on the subject is under its active consideration. Responding to a question at a weekly press conference, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said all decisions on precaution doses are taken first and foremost based on the need.
"The scientific need is the first part that drives it, then other considerations -- programmatic and epidemiological. Just because anyone else is doing it, they have their own context, we have our own context and all this is under constant scientific scrutiny and decision-making," he said. The official said additional need for vaccination and inclusion of population for vaccination is examined constantly. "We also look at developments in the world and keep analysing and all options of vaccination are under active consideration and as decisions are taken, it would be announced," he said.
Responding to a question on vaccination coverage, Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said though there is variation in coverage of vaccination between different age groups, but collectively the vaccination pace is still good in the country. "In October last year, an average 77.55 lakh doses were given every day. In November, about 59.32 lakh doses were given. In December, the number was 61.91 lakh and in January, it was 69.49 lakh and in the last nine days, approximately 51 lakh doses were given on an average every day. But with 96% first dose coverage and 78% second dose coverage, the available number of people who need to get vaccinated reduces a bit," he said.
"If we look today, we are giving 51 lakh doses on an average every day and we urge you to bring awareness among those in young adolescents who have not yet taken vaccination," he added. On re-infection cases during the third wave, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava said infection with one variant does not provide protection from the other variant so as variants have emerged, re-infection has been seen.
"However, we have seen that the use of vaccination prevents severe disease and hospitalisation and death, and COVID appropriate behaviour is useful to prevent it. The biological aspects play a role from individual to individual," he said. Paul added that re-infection cases are being constantly watched. "We have to accept this as a reality and respond to this at the personal and system level as well as at the vaccination and social vaccination level," he said.