Do healthy children need COVID booster? What top WHO scientist says

Do healthy children need COVID booster? What top WHO scientist says

World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan has said that there is “no evidence at all” that healthy children need COVID-19 booster shots.

India recently opened vaccinations for the 15-18 age group. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is the only jab approved for young children in India. As per the Union Health Ministry statistics, over 50 per cent teenagers in the 15-18 age category have been vaccinated with the first dose. A total of 3.71 crore teenagers in the above mentioned category have received their first dose of vaccine till date.

The WHO top official made the point while addressing media persons on Tuesday (January 18). Outlining the objective of COVID vaccination. Dr Swaminathan said, “The aim is to protect the most vulnerable, to protect those at highest risk of severe disease and dying, those are our elderly population, immunocompromised with underlying conditions and also health care workers.”

She further added that there is no evidence right now that healthy children or healthy adolescents need boosters. “No evidence at all. We need more research to understand who needs booster doses,” Hindustan Times said quoting the top scientist.

Also read: Fall in cases does not suggest end of COVID third wave, warn experts

While India has begun inoculating its teens (15-18 age group), a vast majority of children are still waiting for their first dose. Countries like Israel are aggressively administering booster dose to all its population, based on the belief that diminishing immunity may allow Omicron variant to hit the community hard and cause more hospitalisations and deaths. The US too has started administering COVID booster doses to kids in the 2-15 age group. Top US infectious disease expert Dr Faheem Younus recently said that children aged 6-months to 5 years may get COVID vaccine before June 2022.

India, meanwhile, has not taken a call on vaccinating children in the 12-14 age group.

India reported 2,82,970 fresh cases and 441 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am Wednesday. The daily case count is marginally up when compared with Tuesday’s 2,38,018 cases. The active caseload is 18,31,000, significantly up from Tuesday’s 17.3 lakh. The daily positivity rate is 15.13 per cent. The Omicron caseload touched 8,961.

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