As the new Covid-19 variant AY.4.2 has been detected in India, experts have urged citizens to take their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine without showing any negligence as it helps to boost memory cells and contributes to the durability of protection.
Quoting senior scientist Raman Gangakhedkar, former head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases division of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Time of India reported, “The second dose ensures that it boosts not only the virus specific antibodies but also the T cells (T-lymphocytes) - the memory cells which are a part of the broader immune response against the virus. It (second dose) also adds to the durability of protection. It is important to adhere to the evidence generated by the manufacturer through the vaccine trials and take two doses. Single dose and the duration for which it will protect currently lacks in data.”
Dr Sanjay Pujari, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the national Covid-19 task force told Time of India that a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine “improves the breadth of immune response and ensures the durability of the same”.
Referring to some studies, Dr Pujari said lower vaccine efficacy has been noticed after the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine as compared after the second shot. “Hence, it is critical to complete the vaccine schedules at the right time to ensure optimal protection,” Pujari quoted as saying.
Recently, the government said around 11 crore people, who have taken the first shot of Covid-19 vaccine, have not got themselves jabbed with the second dose even after the expiry of the prescribed interval between two doses. The government data showed that over 3.92 crore beneficiaries are more than six weeks overdue for their second dose, around 1.57 crore are up to four to six weeks late, and more than 1.50 crore are up to two to four weeks overdue for their second shot of either Covishield or Covaxin.
Also, over 3.38 crore people are up to two weeks overdue to becoming fully vaccinated. This issue was discussed in a meeting chaired by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya with health ministers and representatives of all states and Union territories on Wednesday. They were asked to focus on such beneficiaries who are overdue for their second dose, official sources said.
The gap between the first and second dose is 12 weeks for Covishield and four weeks for Covaxin. Both doses are needed for adequate protection against severe Covid-19 infection and hospitalisation. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Bihar together account for around 49 per cent of such beneficiaries who are late for their second dose of vaccine.
The Union Health Ministry has also written to several states and UTs asking them to prioritise administering the second dose to beneficiaries who have not got themselves jabbed with the second shot even after the expiry of the prescribed interval between the two doses, sources said. More than 76 per cent of India’s adult population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with nine states and union territories administering the first dose to all eligible people.
The eleven states and UTs which completed second dose coverage to more than 50 per cent of eligible beneficiaries are Lakshadweep, Sikkim, Goa, Ladakh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, Arunachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir. Over 32 per cent of the country’s around 94 crore adults have been administered both the doses, Health Ministry officials said, adding the cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 103.53 crore.
(with inputs from PTI)
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