The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to clarify its stand on administering a booster dose to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, saying it does not want a second-wave-like situation on account of being conservative.
A bench headed by Justice Vipin Sanghi observed that while the western countries are advocating the administration of a booster dose, Indian experts were of the view that there was no medical evidence to support it.
“We need to know from experts. It should not be based on economics. It is an expensive proposition (since vaccines are largely free). (But) We don’t want to land up in a situation where we are overly conservative and we land up in a situation like we were in the second wave. We may lose the advantage,” said the bench also comprising Justice Jasmeet Singh.
“This is a very serious thing. We are not experts. But how is it that the West is encouraging booster and we are not permitting even those who want to,” said the bench also observed that the level of antibodies in a vaccinated person comes down after some time which is making old people and those with co-morbidities “anxious”.
“What is it that the ICMR is saying, What is their stand? If not, there must be some basis. If required, what is the way forward,?” questioned the bench which was hearing a batch of petitions filed during the spread of COVID-19 in the national capital.
The court also asked why should vaccines which are set to expire not be given as booster shots to those fully vaccinated. “Let the Union of India file an affidavit… (on) administration of booster doses of vaccine and the timeline within which it is proposed to be rolled out (if considered necessary)”, the court ordered.
Before listing the case for further hearing on December 14, the court also asked the Centre to bring on record its stand on vaccination of children. Central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia told the court that this issue is already pending before the Chief Justice’s court where the Centre has filed an affidavit informing that vaccination for children has already received in-principle approval and trials are ongoing. “Place it here too,” said the bench.
Amicus Curiae and senior advocate Raj Shekhar Rao submitted that the efficiency of a booster shot was a matter of expert opinion and it is for the Centre to come up with a policy. Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, emphasised that the right things ought to be done at the right time and stated that most countries in Europe and the United States of America have already started administering booster shots.