Focus On Vaccinating First, Booster Doses Can Wait: AIIMS Chief Randeep Guleria

India should now focus on vaccinating as many people as possible to curb the spread of Covid and the idea of booster doses can wait, for now, said Randeep Guleria, Chief, All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The AIIMS chief also said that Sero Survey suggested that there may not be as many coronavirus cases in a likely third Covid wave if vaccinations continue in strength. Till now the country has administered over 60 crore COVID-19 vaccines. During a virtual programme organized by Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council, Guleria emphasized on 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. 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,” Guleria said.

Further, the AIIMS chief 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,” Guleria said.

The AIIMS chief also said that 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 is not the only way of giving protection,” he said.

Guleria also 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 are able to continue to have good vaccination and looking at the serosurvey data, chances are that we may not have that many cases in the third wave,” he said.

On preparedness to fight against third wave Dr Guleria said, “A lot of work has been done in creating paediatric ICU and paediatric wards and training for managing children and paediatric patients if they have severe COVID that workshop is being done also by the government of India. A lot of other activities are being done in terms of oxygen plants PSA liquid oxygen, so there is a lot of work that has been done in the last few weeks or months.”

“I’m sure that there is a good amount of preparation. Although having said that, I’m not sure whether we’re going to have a very bad third wave.” Dr Guleria on preparedness to tackle the third wave.

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