Unplanned Vaccination Can Foster Mutant Strains: Experts Warn PM

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A group of medical experts have submitted a report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, warning that mass, incomplete, and indiscriminate vaccination can stimulate the emergence of mutant viral strains of COVID-19.

The public health specialists belonging to Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, and Indian Association of Epidemiologists have also suggested that there is no requirement of vaccinating individuals who have previously recovered from COVID-19, as per a PTI report.

The health professionals have further advised that instead of implementing a mass-vaccination policy, the country should prioritise the inoculation of those who are vulnerable and at greater risk of the disease.

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What Did the Report Say?

The report submitted to the Prime Minister indicated that inoculation of young adults and children is not backed by research, and would not be cost-efficient. The experts instead advised against a mass, non-selective vaccination policy which includes all age groups.

The report expressed a wariness of the limited vaccine stock available to the country amid the ongoing viral outbreak, and suggested that the vaccination policy should be constructed in a manner that prioritises the reduction of deaths. Older adults, those with co-morbidities or obesity should therefore be given precedence over the younger population.

"“Opening all fronts simultaneously will drain human and other resources and would be spreading it too thin to make an impact at the population level.”" - Medical Experts To PM Modi, as per a PTI report.

Further, the report asserted that those who have previously recovered from COVID-19 should not be vaccinated until evidence is gathered confirming the benefits of inoculation for such cases.

"Vaccine is a strong and powerful weapon against the novel coronavirus. And like all strong weapons, it should neither be withheld nor used indiscriminately; but should be employed strategically to derive maximum benefit in a cost-effective way," the medical professionals said.

The experts also warned that in a fast-paced mass vaccination policy, the adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) may go unnoticed due to limited resources for their monitoring.

The experts also advocated the need for an evidence-based flexibility in vaccine schedules. For instance, the dosage interval of Covishield can be reduced in regions experiencing a rise of COVID-19 cases due to the mutant delta variant, they suggested.

(With inputs from PTI)

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