Well Known Virologist Shahid Jameel noted that the nature of the Covishield vaccine doesn’t make it an ideal candidate for a booster dose. This puts focus on COVAXIN, produced by Bharat Biotech, which he says is a good option to be used as a booster.
India’s top virologist Shahid Jameel has warned that there is “no doubt” India will witness a rise in fresh covid19 cases and the country must consider bosser dose options.
Already, several countries are considering closures measure due to upsurge in new variants of COVID19, and are ramping up drives for booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine after a massive surge in daily cases,
In an interview with a leading financial daily, Jameel said that the Centre needs to formulate a booster dose (an additional shot of vaccine) policy as he believes Covishield, which most Indians have been inoculated with, may not be effective as the third dose.
Virologist Shahid Jameel, Covishield may not be an effective booster dose
Jameel says “Covishiled is made using a whole chimp virus with a few genes deleted and the spike gene of Covid virus inserted in it. So this virus, besides making the Covid virus protein, it makes several of its own proteins. The immune system looks at any foreign protein to be the same so it will raise antibodies and T-Cells to both the COVID protein as well as to the chimp virus proteins.
Since the chimp virus proteins are many more in number compared to just one spike protein, as you give more and more of it, preferential boosting will happen of the chimp virus proteins and that’s not what you want. What you want is spike responses. That’s why we’ll have to look at other options like COVAXIN, “he said.
India has give 90 percent dose of Covishield. A third dose of Covishield is not going to boost antibodies very so much Covaxin could be used as a booster to those who got who got covishield,” he said.
COVAXIN is a whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell derived platform technology. Inactivated vaccines do not replicate and are therefore unlikely to revert and cause pathological effects. They contain dead virus, incapable of infecting people but still able to instruct the immune system to mount a defensive reaction against an infection.
“This variant is not going to give us that much time,” he said. India has fully vaccinated just about 38 per cent of the population and studies have shown that vaccine effectiveness in protecting symptomatic infection goes down over time. With the spread of the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron, there are renewed concerns about a surge in cases which may result in increased pressure on the healthcare system in India.
“Even now, I think there will be many more cases of Omicron that are not on the radar right now. This number will definitely increase quite dramatically,” Jameel said.
These developments make a pressing case for rolling out booster shots in the country. Jameel called for a booster policy, which will entail procedures on which vaccine, how many doses of it, among other things.
But the top virologist believes that since India is home to a large population of immuno-compromised people, Omicron is still a worry. “But as far as disease is concerned, viruses tend to behave differently in different populations and in different subsets,” he said, agreeing that they should also be first in line for booster shot when it is available.
Jameel, an eminent virologist and fellow, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford had quit as head of Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INSACOG) in May this year.