Amid renewed Covid scare, do we need fourth vaccine dose? What experts say

Amid renewed Covid scare, do we need fourth vaccine dose? What experts say

Amid renewed Covid scare, do we need fourth vaccine dose? What experts say

The poor uptake of the precautionary dose (third dose) in India raises concerns. Experts say a fourth dose is not needed.

India is on high alert given the surge in cases and deaths due to Covid-19 on China. The Centre held a high-level meeting on Wednesday and stressed the importance of improving vaccine coverage in India.

The uptake of the precautionary dose has been dismal at just 27 per cent in India.

“Appeal to senior citizens to take the precautionary dose,” said Dr VK Paul, member, Health, Niti Aayog today after the meeting.

However, those who have already been administered the boosters are asking if a fourth dose is needed.

Here is what experts say:


Speaking to India Today TV, the former director of AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria, stressed the need to only take the third dose. “There is no data to suggest that a fourth dose is needed. Not unless there is a new vaccine which is variant specific like the bivalent vaccine,” Dr Guleria said.

The FDA - Food and Drug Administration describes bivalent vaccines as: “The bivalent Covid-19 vaccines include a component of the original virus strain to provide broad protection against Covid-19 and a component of the Omicron variant to provide better protection against Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant. These are called bivalent Covid-19 vaccines because they contain these two components.”

A bivalent Covid-19 vaccine may also be referred to as an “updated” Covid-19 vaccine booster dose.

The original Covid-19 vaccines target one strain of the coronavirus, the original SARS-CoV-2 virus from 2019. "Bivalent" Covid-19 vaccines target two strains of the Covid-19 virus, the original strain and an Omicron strain.

At present, no vaccine being used in India is a bivalent vaccine. Outside of India, mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and BioNTech’s Bivalent vaccine and Moderna’s vaccine are being used only from the point of view of boosting.

“The problem with booster doses is their effectiveness is short lived,” Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, member of the Covid Task Force, Kerala told India Today TV.

“The mRNA vaccines, which have been used as a fourth dose in other countries, show the effect wanes rather quickly than the third dose,” he said.

Experts also stressed the need to boost the vulnerable population at the moment.

“We may not require to boost everyone, except those who have weak immunological defences,” said Professor K Srinath Reddy, founder (Past) president and Distinguished Professor of Public Health, PHFI.

Courtesy: India today