Coronavirus: Global situation

India not planning to give boosters as it nears 1b-vaccine mark

NEW DELHI • India has no plans to give booster doses to its citizens, as some nations have begun doing, the government's chief Covid-19 adviser has said as the country nears the milestone of one billion vaccine injections.

The adviser, Dr Vinod K. Paul, also said that with the country's vaccine makers ramping up production and domestic needs diminishing, India should be able to resume being a major exporter of vaccines from next year.

More than 15 countries have begun issuing third doses of coronavirus vaccines to their older citizens, including in Israel and in European Union nations such as France, Italy and Germany.

But Dr Paul, part of the Indian government's advisory body NITI Aayog, said on Wednesday that there is no clear guidance on whether a third dose is necessary, including from the World Health Organisation.

"As of now, we do not have a recommendation for a booster bump-up dose," he told reporters.

But he added that the government would "continue to watch this space very carefully".

His comments came with the number of vaccine doses administered in India set to hit one billion in the coming days, with some 75 per cent of those eligible receiving one shot and around 30 per cent double vaccinated.

India is the world's largest vaccine producer but the country halted exports of its coronavirus shots earlier this year to focus on its domestic needs after a devastating surge in infections overwhelmed hospitals.

But with vaccination rates now high and coronavirus cases down sharply, vaccine exports have resumed in recent days, with a total of around four million doses reportedly being sent to Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Iran.

Meanwhile, the production of Covishield - the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine - and the homegrown Covaxin is around 250 million shots per month and is on course to reach 270 million soon, according to officials.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'India not planning to give boosters as it nears 1b-vaccine mark'. Subscribe