The decision of the Union government to push the vaccination programme further against Covid-19 by making the precaution dose free for those who are aged above 18 years has come not one day sooner.
India launched the vaccination programme in early 2021 and it is now more than a year when most citizens got their first jab. As per the available information, the vaccine offers a line of defence against the virus for a period ranging from six months to one year. This leaves the country in a vulnerable position as most people must have exhausted their vaccine-induced protection.
That only one per cent of the eligible population aged between 18 and 59 has got the precaution dose calls on the government to redouble its efforts to administer the booster dose. To keep August 15 as a deadline to achieve the target should only remain an administrative measure and the government must take it up on a mission mode and ensure that all the eligible people got it.
A fresh impetus for the vaccination programme is made imperative by the statistics on the pandemic, too. India on Thursday recorded more than 20,138 new Covid cases — the number touched this high after a gap of four months. The daily caseload has been hovering around this figure for some time but it may be noticed that it has not gone down substantially for more than a month now. Booster doses could help a major share of the population keep itself safe.
Reports say the United States is now witnessing the spread of BA.5, the most infectious and transmissible variant of Omicron yet. It keeps evolving and even escaping immunity, resulting in increased hospitalisations. The day is not far when it reaches India. The government must seriously reconsider introducing nationwide precautionary steps, including making masks mandatory, before it is too late....