Government welcomes suggestions from experts on COVID-19

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India covid newsThere is no need to vaccinate people who had documented COVID-19 infection. These people may be vaccinated after generating evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection, the recommendations stated. (Express Photo)

The Centre on Friday welcomed recommendations by a group of experts that mass, indiscriminate and incomplete vaccination can trigger emergence of mutant strains and that there is no need to inoculate those who had documented coronavirus infection, saying the suggestions will be deliberated upon.

In their latest report which has been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the group of public health experts, including doctors from AIIMS and members from the national taskforce on COVID-19, had recommended that there is no need to inoculate those who had coronavirus infection and that vaccinating the vulnerable and those at risk, instead of mass population-wide inoculation including children, should be the aim at present.

At a press conference, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul said these recommendations have been made by respectable epidemiologists and experts who are from very respectable institutions.

“We welcome their suggestions and will hold one on one discussion with them,” he said.

On the suggestion of doing away with inoculation of those having recovered from COVID-19, Paul said such decisions are to be taken by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI), which receives such suggestions, reviews and deliberates on them.

“They looked at science and the data available when they took the decision that Covid patients can get vaccinated three months after recovery from illness. If more data becomes available and new suggestions come, they will consider them and deliberate upon them. It is a dynamic process.

“Even in WHO and other countries, several decisions are being refined or changed from time to time. Decisions are taken based on Science. Appropriate deliberations will be held on such suggestions,” he noted.

The experts from the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) in their report had said ?the present situation of the pandemic in the country demands that we should be guided by the logistics and epidemiological data to prioritise vaccination rather than opening vaccination for all age groups at this stage”.

“Opening all fronts simultaneously will drain human and other resources and would be spreading it too thin to make an impact at the population level,” the experts said in the report.

Highlighting that vaccination of young adults and children is not supported by evidence and would not be cost effective, they said unplanned inoculation can promote mutant strains.

“Mass, indiscriminate, and incomplete vaccination can also trigger emergence of mutant strains. Given the rapid transmission of infection in various parts of the country, it is unlikely that mass vaccination of all adults will catch up with the pace of natural infection among our young population,” they said in the report.

There is no need to vaccinate people who had documented COVID-19 infection. These people may be vaccinated after generating evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection, the recommendations stated.

“Vaccine is a strong and powerful weapon against the novel coronavirus. And like all strong weapons it should neither be withheld nor used indiscriminately; but should be employed strategically to derive maximum benefit in a cost-effective way,” they said.

The report had also suggested implementing repeated local level serosurveys in real time at the end of the second wave to map the vulnerability at district level to guide vaccination strategy and long-term follow up of the cohort of recovered COVID-19 patients to document re-infection, severity and outcome to provide evidence base on duration of immunity after natural infection.

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