Omicron threat: Genomic Sequencing Consortium recommends booster shots for people over 40 years
India -Detection of new Covid-19 “variant of concern” Omicron has brought the countries on toes as they decide on the health care framework and modus operandi of the days ahead. Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) has recommended booster Covid-19 doses for people over 40 years of age in its weekly bulletin. The top genome scientists have recommended that people over 40 years should get booster vaccine shot administered with priority to high risk and high exposure people. The INSACOG is a government set up of network of national testing laboratories for monitoring genomic variations of the SARS CoV-2 virus.
The weekly bulletin of INSACOG says, “Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years and above, first targeting the most high risk/high exposure, may be considered since low levels of neutralising antibodies from current vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralise Omicron, although the risk of severe disease is still likely to be reduced.”
Bulletin has further recommended that genomic surveillance is a critical step towards detecting the new variant. Also monitoring of international travels, contact tracing and increase in testing are the essential steps to take control over the Omicron or any other variant.
The experts of INSACOG said a general belief around virus evolution is that prevailing immunity, either from prior infection or vaccine, might be lower to combat the Omicron variant and possibly result in re-infection. They added that in this context a recommendation has been made for booster dose.
Virologist Prof Shahid Jameel has stressed that focus should be on getting maximum people vaccinated with the two doses. Gautam Menon, Professor of Physics and Biology, Ashoka University too said on the same line stressing on two dose coverage for all adults. “After that or in parallel, prioritising a booster shot for those over-60, and the immuno-compromised of all ages, would be a sensible move,” he said.