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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

India Covid: Booster shots start for priority groups as cases surge


India has begun giving booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to priority groups amid a surge in infections.

Health and frontline workers, as well as people over 60 with comorbidities, are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

The drive began as India is dealing with an increase in Covid cases caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Early research from other countries suggests that a booster vaccine may provide additional protection against Omicron.

In November, the highly transmissible Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa.

Several countries have since expanded their booster programmes or reduced the time between jabs to strengthen protection against the variant.

In India, the booster shot, dubbed a “precaution dose” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will contain the same vaccine as the first and second doses.

Since the start of its vaccination campaign in January 2021, India has primarily used two locally manufactured vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin.

On Sunday, India reported more than 179,000 new infections in the previous 24 hours, owing to a sharp increase in cases in major cities such as the national capital of Delhi and the financial capital of Mumbai.

On the same day, Mr Modi convened a review meeting with top officials and requested “technical support” for states reporting additional cases.

The government began administering vaccines to 15-18-year-olds last week, with the government claiming that 31% of Indians in this age group have received the first dose.

So far, more than 91 percent of adults have been partially immunised, with 66 percent receiving both doses.

However, experts say that millions of unvaccinated people are still at risk, many of whom have underlying health issues that could exacerbate the severity of the infection.

The spread of Omicron has also raised concerns; India has confirmed a total of 4,003 cases of Omicron, with Maharashtra state reporting the most (1,126 cases), followed by Rajasthan (529), and Delhi (529). (513).

So far, the country has recorded over 35 million Covid cases and approximately 483,000 deaths from the virus.

Last year, the country’s health system was overwhelmed by a devastating second wave, resulting in a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, and critical drugs.

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