What’s in it? Who’s testing it? Are there any health risks?
While we all thought the worst to be over for India, recent uptick in COVID-19 infections may complicate the country’s fight against the coronavirus.
As the COVID-19 cases are increasing everyday at an unabated pace once again, the race to vaccinate as many people as possible to stall the infection rates and keep it at bay has begun on a war footing in India.
However, with the emergence on new variants, experts are already considering the likelihood of the need for a third dose or a “booster shot” of COVID-19 vaccine. The third dose of COVID-19 vaccine could be used to boost up our immunity to the coronavirus, while protecting us from new mutated versions (strains).
Here we look at some frequently asked questions on why a third dose is needed, when to take it and whether there are any potential health risks.
I was recently administered the second dose of COVID vaccine. Do I need a third COVID-19 vaccination shot?
Although there is limited information available so far, the protection from having two doses of COVID-19 vaccine is likely to wane over time. Therefore, a booster shot or a third dose may be required to ensure that the immune response persists.
Many vaccinations against long-established diseases like ‘hepatitis A’, need ‘booster shots’ if protection is to be sustained.
In addition, as immunity from COVID-19 vaccine is likely to last for few months only (three to six months), the possibility of a booster is required.
Who is testing the third vaccine shot?
Drug makers across the world have already begun studying the third dose of COVID-19 vaccine as part of the strategy to guard against mutated versions of the coronavirus
In India, the SEC (Subject Expert Committee) of India’s drug regulator, the DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) allowed Bharat Biotech to conduct the phase 2 trial where participants will get a third shot of Covaxin six months after the second dose.
Researchers will analyse whether extracts from the blood of the participants, which should contain increased quantities of antibodies against coronavirus, can neutralise new Sars-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19) strains.
While health experts say that the current COVID-19 vaccines still protect against the variants that are emerging in different parts of the world, vaccine makers are now starting to prepare for the third booster dose in case a more vaccine-resistant mutation comes along.
What will be the gap between the second dose and the third dose of COVID vaccine?
Currently, we do not have sufficient research to answer this. However, the DCGI allowed Bharat Biotech to conduct the phase 2 trial where the participants in the trail will get a third shot of Covaxin six months after the second dose.
Are there health risks in having third COVID-19 dose?
Drug manufacturers are studying the effects of a third vaccine dose (booster shot) against new COVID variants. Safety is one factor these drug makers are analyzing in the trials of the booster shot.
However, it is too early and currently, there are limited data on this.