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Top Indian Genome Scientists Recommend COVID Booster Dose for Over-40s In Omicron Scare

© AP Photo / Rafiq MaqboolA woman receives Covishield COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Mumbai, India, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021
A woman receives Covishield COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Mumbai, India, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
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After India reported its first two cases of the Omicron variant from Karnataka state this week, several lawmakers on Friday during a debate in the Indian parliament demanded that booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccination be made available.
With the Omicron variant spreading through different parts of India, the country's top genome scientists have suggested a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines for those above the age of 40 who are considered to be high-risk.
The recommendation has been made by the scientists in the latest weekly bulletin of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG), a network of national testing labs set up by the government to monitor genomic variations of COVID-19 across India.

"Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those aged 40 years and over, first targeting the highest-risk/highest-exposure may be considered," the report from INSACOG suggests.

The report also suggests that although the antibodies from the present vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralise the Omicron variant, the risk of severe disease caused by the variant is likely to be reduced.
The scientists have shared that genomic surveillance would be critical in early detection of the variant and would help to dictate what public health measures ought to be taken.
“Monitoring travel to and from the known affected areas, and contact tracing of COVID-19 cases with an epidemiological link to the affected areas has been implemented along with increased testing,” the INSACOG said.
India's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the advisory group to the government on vaccines, said last month that a policy on the booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccination could be expected in two weeks.
In an official poll by Bloomberg, around 15 vaccine experts, infectious disease doctors and public-health officials also advised that the need of the hour is to get a booster now and not to for an Omicron shot.
“Boosters are even more urgent not only to increase immunity as much as possible for individual protection, but also population-level immunity in the spread of Omicron and new variants which might emerge,” Gregory Poland, the Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, said.

India has recorded 9,216 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's active caseload up to 99,976, the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry said on Friday.
More than 1.25 billion vaccine doses have been administered under the nationwide vaccination drive.
On Thursday, India reported two cases of the Omicron variant in which two men aged 66 and 46 were diagnosed with mild symptoms and are being treated in hospital.
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