New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry hinted on Tuesday that the people infected with Covid-19 or those who have recovered and exhibit antibodies against the viral disease could also come under the ambit of vaccination drive for the immunisation of people against the coronavirus infection.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that this process is already in the mandate of a national expert group for vaccine administration, headed by V.K. Paul, member, NITI Aayog (health). “They are contemplating the issue, but nothing is concrete as yet,” he said while addressing a press conference.
Bhushan also said that many countries are contemplating the matter of whether patients suffering from Covid-19 or those who have developed its antibodies should be included in the immunisation drive.
Meanwhile, divulging into the technicalities of the matter, Balram Bhargava, Director-General (DG), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said, “There are two important issues linked with the immunisation of such a set of people. If someone has antibodies against the Covid-19 infection, and a vaccine is given to that person, would he or she develop any vaccine associated adverse reaction? Secondly, if we consider the presence of antibodies and avoid the administration of vaccines to the person, would we be able to spare our vaccine doses?”
However, answering the points raised, Bhargava said that there are enough data from different trials that show that the vaccine related adverse reaction does not happen even if the dose is administered to a person having active Covid infection. “However, the discussion is still going on internationally regarding its implementation,” he added.
Bhargava also said that the World health Organization (WHO) has clearly stated after assessment of the solidarity trials of the vaccines that one does not need to measure the antibodies before administering the vaccine or even find out if the person receiving the dose has contracted the Covid-19 disease. “The current mandate of WHO gives a go-ahead for vaccination to such a set of people,” he added.
The Centre has formed tentative guidelines for vaccine administration to the priority groups. The government has divided the prioritisation under four groups — healthcare workers, people above 65 years of age, people aged between 50 and 65 years, and lastly, people below 50 years with underlying conditions.