Srinagar: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Saturday said booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine are crucial to protect people from the highly transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus.
“Booster doses offer a significant increase in protection against Omicron,” said DAK President and Influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement.
Quoting a lab study from Oxford University, Dr Hassan said the levels of antibodies against Omicron after a booster dose of AstraZeneca vaccine were significantly higher compared to titers after a second dose.
“Neutralizing levels of antibodies against Omicron after a booster were similar to those against the Delta variant after two doses.” he said.
“The findings of the study hold significant implications for Jammu and Kashmir, where more than 90 percent doses are of Covishield, which is the local version of AstraZeneca vaccine,” he added.
The DAK President said similar studies from Pfizer and Moderna have also shown that their booster shots effectively neutralized the new variant. “The results of lab studies support the use of booster dose to limit the spread of Omicron variant,” he said.
Dr Nisar said while two doses of Covid-19 vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease, lab results suggest that two shots of the vaccine are not effective in preventing omicron infection.
“Early real-world data produced by the UK Health Security Agency confirmed that two doses show significantly reduced antibody levels against Omicron,” he said.
“The agency suggested that vaccine effectiveness against Omicron more than 25 weeks after second vaccine dose was negligible for AstraZeneca and only about 35 percent with Pfizer,” said Dr Nisar.
“But after a booster, effectiveness was around 75 percent,” he added
General Secretary DAK Dr Arshad Ali said being fully vaccinated is not enough against the new variant. “It is essential that every eligible adult receives a booster as soon as possible to keep the variant at bay,” he said.
Spokesperson DAK Dr Riyaz Ahmad Dagga said booster shot is the third or the additional dose of Covid-19 vaccine given to ensure the protection is maintained against the new variants.
“The booster dose can be the same as your original vaccine or it can be from a different vaccine,” he said.
“CDC and FDA have approved booster shots for all adults to be given at least six months after the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. While many countries including US and UK have started administering booster shots, India is yet to take a call,” he added.