Covid-19: ASSOCHAM calls for booster dose to mitigate pandemic impact amid spike in Omicron cases

The Omicron variant has emerged as a ‘variant of concern’ following its detection in southern Africa late last month. (File/Reuters)

The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) called for a higher pace of vaccination amid a spurt in Covid-19 cases led by the Omicron variant. ASSOCHAM CSR Council Chairman Anil Rajput also called for a booster dose to contend with the variant, which has more mutations and a higher transmission rate and has emerged as a ‘variant of concern’.

“While we must be wary of not over vaccinating, optimally utilising surplus vaccines by administration it to people with comorbidities and front-line workers needs to considered,” he said.

The industry body organised a webinar — ‘Booster Dose for Covid-19’ — as part of its ‘Illness to Wellness’ campaign in New Delhi to create awareness about the booster dose and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and its effect on health and welfare.

Dr Gautam Bhansali of the Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences highlighted the importance of the vaccination drive and said different variants were coming out and countries such as the UK and the US were still recovering. “…booster doses are important as they reduce the severity of the impact… therefore, even if the virus is contracted, there would not be a need for hospitalisation.”

He said 74% of Mumbai residents had been fully vaccinated with only the gap between the two doses preventing the remainder from taking the second dose. He also called on the government to reduce the gap.

Speaking on the severity of the Omicron variant, Artemis Hospital Senior Consultant of Internal Medicine Dr P Venkata Krishnan said: “There is a need to administer the booster shot as the first dose introduces the body to the infection and then timely doses are required so that the body is able to identify the infection effectively and produce the desired antigens.”

The Omicron variant has emerged as a ‘variant of concern’ following its detection in southern Africa late last month. On Sunday, India reported 17 cases — nine in Jaipur, seven in Pune district, and one in Delhi — to take its tally to 21.

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