As India grapples with the possibility of a new wave due to the Omicron variant, the Centre on Saturday, 25 December, announced an expansion of the national vaccination drive.
In a late-night address on Christmas, PM Modi announced that those aged between 15-18 years of age will now be eligible for vaccinations from 3 January. “Precautionary doses” of a COVID vaccine will also be administered to frontline workers and those who are 60 years and above with comorbidities will be administered doses from 10 January.
Though the decision to expand vaccination coverage has been widely welcomed, four critical questions regarding them have emerged:
First, why call it a precautionary dose and not a booster dose? Does this signal that the third shot will be Covishield or Covaxin? This leads us to the second question, how effective is a third dose of the same vaccine?
Third, given that Covaxin is the only vaccine in production to be cleared for inoculating those under 18, is it worrying that there is no publicly available data of the trials? And lastly, will the restriction on additional doses for those over the age of 60 cause problems?
To discuss this, joining me today are Dr Chandrakand Lahairya, an epidemiologist and health systems expert and Dr Rakesh Mishra, former director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology.
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