Third dose can be taken only after 9 months of 2nd shot, health officials inform parliamentary panel
New Delhi: Union Health Ministry informed a parliamentary panel that if required, a third dose can be taken, but only after nine months of the second dose, as reported by news agency PTI.
Top officials of Health Ministry on Thursday informed a parliamentary panel that there are 23 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 and authorities are closely monitoring the situation, government sources said. Maharashtra leads the chart with 10 cases, followed by Rajasthan with nine, officials told the panel in the presentation, adding that globally there are 2303 cases of Omicron variant, the sources said.
The health officials gave a detailed presentation on Omnicron variant and other issues related to COVID-19.
Health Secretary, ICMR Director General, and other top officials from the ministry deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health chaired by Ram Gopal Yadav on the issue 'Challenges posed by Omicron variant of COVID-19'.
The meeting was held 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 also present at the meeting.
On the question of booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, officials said if required, a third dose can be taken, but only after nine months of the second dose, the sources said.
At a meeting of a department-related standing committee for health and family welfare, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Dr Balram Bhargava said 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.
During the meeting, members suggested that tackling COVID-19 is like game of police-thief and authorities "should stay ahead of the virus," the sources said.
According to sources, during their presentation, officials underlined the need for versatility of the vaccine which is effective against different variants.
There are more than 100 countries which are accepting vaccine certificates issued by the Indian government for international travel, they said, according to the sources.
Officials of the Health Ministry told the members that additional research and data is awaited before India can start administering vaccine to children. The members were told that there are 23 cases of Omicron presently in the country, with 2,303 cases of Omicron existing globally in around 57 countries.
Denmark is one of the worst hit countries with around 800 cases. In India, out of the 23 cases, 10 are from Maharashtra, 9 from Rajasthan, 2 from Karnataka and one each from Gujarat and Delhi.
There is not a particular data to count the deaths caused by this variant in any part of the world. The ones who have tested positive for Omicron in India have shown very mild symptoms, with a few being asymptomatic, the officers said.
One of the committee members further asked the officers about the reason behind the increasing number of cases within the rich sections of population, as compared to those from poor sections. An officer replied that most of the people in the area have been double vaccinated and have after that let their guard down and flouted all possible COVID norms.
On being asked about the efforts by the government to ensure people might not get lax like they did before the second wave of the pandemic, and the panic that followed, an official replied 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.
Some also talked about the high cost of the RT-PCR test, which has been made mandatory for travellers at the airports. The ministry officials informed the committee that the matter is under consideration and an update could be expected soon on the issue on the reduced cost of the test.
The members were also informed that the government is presently undertaking research regarding the nature of the omicron virus, its impact, symptoms and how effective vaccine is against it. Genome sequencing is the key to these questions.
Further, a suggestion was put forward by the committee that it is important for health ministry to conduct timely briefings in order to deal with any myths and misconceptions at the earliest, reports News18.