More than a month after the implementation of liberalized vaccine policy in India, experts are suggesting Prime Minister Modi that no vaccination is needed for patients who have recovered from COVID-19. These experts include AIIMs doctors, members from the COVID-19 task force and more. The suggestion to PM Modi comes from IPHA (Indian Public Health Association), IAPSM (Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicines) & IAE (Indian Association of Epidemiologists).
Under the current guidelines by the MoHFW (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare), any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 must wait for 3 months after the recovery period to get their jab of vaccines. The reason for that is fairly simple, as there are COVID-19 antibodies already formed in the recovery process, the same vaccine can be administered to someone who doesn’t have those antibodies. However, a new suggestion has come from a group of experts that claim that vaccination is not needed for those who have recovered.
The vaccine policy of India has gone through several revisions and upgradations. Some were made in the light of vaccine shortage, while some were made in the wake of increasing number of daily active cases. The most important revision in the vaccine policy was the ‘liberalized’ vaccine policy, which stated that every person above the age of 18-years will be eligible for vaccination.
After the revision, another guideline revision came in the form of Centre suggesting that those who recovered from the infection must wait for a period of 3 months to get vaccinated. Now, a new set of recommendations are coming from prominent epidemiology and disease experts. These experts are suggestion PM Modi to review the current policy.
Here are some of the recommendations made by the experts
No Need to vaccinate COVID-19 recovered patients
According to report, the people who have had documented COVID-19 in the past are not needed to get vaccinated. The report stated that after until evidence is not generated that vaccination is beneficial after national infection, there is no need for recovered patients to be vaccinated.
Vaccinating young adults not cost-effective
The experts suggested PM to review the current liberalized policy which is letting every person above 18 to be vaccinated. The report by exports state that while vaccinating all adults does make sense, the reality is that there is shortage of vaccine.
In such a scenario, the experts are recommending, focus on prevention of death among older age groups should be a priority. “Vaccinating young adults, given the present constraints, will not be cost-effective,” the report states.
The experts recommended that the priority in the current phase must be to protect the vulnerable at all cost instead of vaccinating children and other groups of population.
Reduce dose interval at certain regions
According to the experts, the vaccine schedule should be flexible at certain regions where a particular variant of virus is the cause of surge. The report stated that in regions where the Delta variant is causing surge in cases, the 2-dose interval of Covishield can be reduced from the current 12 weeks.
Prioritize vaccine supply to rural centers
According to experts, the overall objective of the inoculation drive should be to curb the spread of disease at a mass population level and in that regard, the supply must be prioritized at rural vaccination centers. The experts also made reference to the the mass-scale polio vaccination drive and said that these drives should be considered a guide in forming strategy for COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Promote vaccine and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour
Vaccines should be promoted by communication engagement and risk communication. The experts said that by communication engagement, message on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour can also be shared to the public.
‘Vaccine diplomacy’ must be continued
While the experts stated that there is a shortage of vaccine, it also lauded that the country has marked its identity by sending vaccines to several countries across the world under the ‘vaccine diplomacy.
“This goodwill gesture has won praise from many world leaders and must be continued in national interest,”
-the report said.