PIL seeks reduction in gap for COVID-19 precaution dose for frontline workers, Delhi HC says ‘it’s a policy decision’

New Delhi [India], February 4 (ANI): A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was moved in Delhi High Court has sought direction to the Centre to reduce the gap between the second dose and proposed third dose/precaution dose of COVID-19 vaccine from 39 weeks (nine months) to three months for frontline workers and senior citizens.

The Bench of Justices DN Patel and Jyoti Singh on Friday said it’s a policy matter of the Government while refusing to consider the issue. Advocate appeared for Petitioner Dishank Dhawan submitted that though waiting of nine months for a booster is not backed by any scientific evidence. On the contrary, WHO has said vaccination efficacy is about three months and the new sub-variant of Omicron which is deadlier and infectious has already infected 56 countries.

Dishank Dhawan through the plea also sought appropriate direction to the Centre to give priority to the immediate family of frontline workers while taking booster dose/precaution dose (third dose).

The plea further stated that, in September 2021, WHO established the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC). This multidisciplinary group of 18 experts reviews and assesses the public health implications of emerging VOCs on the performance of COVID-19 vaccines and provides recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine composition.

Since its emergence, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has continued to evolve and WHO has designated five variants as SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern (VOC) to date — namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron — due to their impact on transmission, disease severity, or capacity for immune escape. While the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the world, the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is expected to continue and Omicron is unlikely to be the last VOC.

According to the petition, despite various other countries mandating the booster dose (third dose) immediately after 3-4 months of getting the second dose of vaccination to its frontline workers/ healthcare workers, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India is mandating a 39 week (nine-month) gap between the second dose and the proposed third dose/precaution dose. It is needless to mention that the said gap of 39 weeks (nine months) is not backed by any eloquent study, besides it being demotivating for the existing frontline workers/ healthcare workers, who are selflessly exposing themselves to the undetected virus every day.

Furthermore, numerous frontline workers/ healthcare workers who got their second dose of vaccination after April 2021 are unable to get their precaution dose/third dose of vaccination, despite it being the need of the hour, the same being given in various other developed/ developing countries of the world including our immediate neighbours like Sri Lanka, plea read. (ANI)