The government will take a decision about administering the booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine after ensuring jabs for all the eligible people of the country.
“We haven’t yet taken any decision on the booster dose. We’re now working to ensure vaccination for all the eligible people,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
The government is currently inoculating schoolchildren aged 12-17 and common people aged 18 and above.
It has a target to administer the first dose to 120 million eligible people by January next.
According to the DGHS, 49,114,462 people -- 40.93 percent of the target -- have received their first doses of vaccine while 31,963,515 of them (26.64pc) have completed receiving both the doses as of November 9.
Experts said many people who have been vaccinated may lose antibodies after six months to one year of vaccination.
Several countries, including the US, Germany and Singapore, have started providing booster doses for various groups, including health workers, elderly and the people with co-morbidity.
“We have to ensure at least one dose for all eligible people of the country. Then we can think about administering the booster dose. As we haven’t yet brought all target people under vaccination, no decision has been taken about the booster shot,” she said.
The government is currently administering AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines in the country while inoculation with Sinovac vaccine may start soon. Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque recently said at least 120 million vaccine doses will be administered by January next as the government has already arranged 210 million doses from different sources.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof Dr Md Robed Amin, line director (NCDC) of the DGHS, said the government has fully inoculated over 25 percent people of the target to bring 120 million people of the country under vaccination. “We’ll complete the vaccination for our target people first and then we can think about the booster dose,” he said.
The effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in preventing infection by coronavirus dropped to 47 percent from 88 percent six months after the second dose, according to data published in medical journal Lancet.
A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers concluded that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine was 93 percent effective in preventing illness, and more than 98 percent effective in preventing severe illness even five months after a second dose.
A third shot of Sinopharm vaccine leads to a rebound in antibody levels that drop months after a second dose, a small-scale Chinese study showed.
According to researchers, a third shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine produces a strong immune response.
The German authorities suggested extra vaccine doses for people older than 70 as well as care home workers. It also recommended mRNA booster shots for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Sources at the Health and Family Welfare Ministry said the Covid-19 vaccination programme is being conducted in the country as per recommendations of Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee of Covid-19, underscored the need for conducting a study on how long the coronavirus vaccines can give protection. “As per the antibody test report, we have to go for the booster dose. I think we have to take the booster dose every year after receiving the second shot,” he added.
SAGE on Immunization and its COVID-19 Vaccines Working Group continues to review the emerging evidence on the need for and timing of a booster dose for the currently available Covid-19 vaccines which have received emergency use listing (EUL).
“Booster doses are administered to a vaccinated population that has completed a primary vaccination series when, with time, the immunity and clinical protection has fallen below a rate deemed sufficient in that population. The objective of a booster dose is to restore vaccine effectiveness from that deemed no longer sufficient,” it added.
The US Food and Drug Administration has taken action to expand the use of a booster dose for Covid-19 vaccines in eligible populations.