NEW DELHI — India should now focus on vaccinating as many people as possible to curb the spread of Covid-19, and the idea of booster doses can wait, for now, said Randeep Guleria, Chief, All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India’s leading medical institute.

He said that Sero Survey suggested that there may not be as many coronavirus cases in a likely third Covid-19 wave if vaccinations continue in strength. Till now, the country has administered over 60 crores (600 million) of Covid-19 vaccines.

During a virtual program organized by Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council, Guleria emphasized the importance of vaccinating high-risk groups.

“I think we should focus on vaccinating those who have not been vaccinated till now, especially the high-risk group,” he said.

“Still many healthcare workers, many elderly and those with comorbidities have not been vaccinated, and they are the ones who have a chance of having more severe disease and dying because of Covid-19.”

The fourth sero survey said that overall sero-prevalence is 67.6 percent in the entire population.

“The 4th round of national sero-survey for Covid-19 — Overall sero-prevalence is 67.6 percent in the entire population Amongst the adults in the survey, 62.2 percent people were not vaccinated, while 24.8 percent had taken a single dose of vaccine and 13 percent were fully vaccinated,” tweeted India’s Press Information Bureau.

The Indian Government had also advised all States/Union Territories to conduct sero-prevalence surveys in consultation with the Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body in India, for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research.

“The Union Health Ministry has referred to the findings of the 4th round of National Sero-Prevalence Survey done by Indian Council of Medical Research,” said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a press release.

“We have advised the states to conduct the sero-prevalence studies in their states/UTs in consultation with ICMR so that such studies follow a standardized protocol, and the findings of such studies can then be utilized quickly by the respective State/UT to guide objective, transparent and evidence-based public health response to Covid-19.”

Guleria said that instead of exploring the idea of booster doses, if the focus is on giving vaccines to those who will benefit from it, “we may be able to save lives.”

“So I think the issue should be to vaccinate as many individuals as possible, rather than going in for three shots, four shots and trying different things, I think, let’s stick to what we know right now, and focus on vaccinating as many people as we can,” he said.

“Enough data was not yet available to show the need for booster dose right now in the country. I don’t think we have enough data to show that there is a need for booster right now; remember antibodies are not the only way of giving protection.”

Guleria said that if vaccinations continue in good strength according to the results of the Sero Survey, the country may not have as many cases in the likely third wave of Covid-19.

“My feeling is that if we can continue to have good vaccination and looking at the serosurvey data, the chances are that we may not have that many cases in the third wave,” he said.

“A lot of work has been done in creating pediatric ICU and pediatric wards and training for managing children and pediatric patients if they have severe Covid-19 that workshop is being also done by the government of India,” Guleria said on preparedness to fight against the third wave.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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