Why is Covid-19 booster dose important, and what is its connection with monkeypox?

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It has been more than two years of living with the coronavirus and most people have got themselves vaccinated with at least two doses of the Covid vaccine.

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While there is a push for a third booster shot — which is an additional precautionary dose — there is some kind of reluctance, with people believing the two jabs are enough to protect them against the virus.

Dr A M Deshmukh, president of Microbiologist Society, India says the misconception that people have right now about the virus is that after getting jabbed twice, it will spread in a milder form and then fade away.

“But, this is not the case. The immunity that Covid-19 vaccine is building may decrease over time. New variants are constantly evolving since the first wave of the pandemic, even with a whole new family. As such, getting vaccinated with two doses is not enough; booster doses are safe and effective for protection against variants of concern,” he explains, adding that booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine lessen the risk of hospitalisation from the virus.

“Booster shots are administered to a vaccinated population that has completed a primary vaccination series. The objective of a booster shot is to restore vaccine effectiveness, which is no longer sufficient with the evolving Covid variants,” he adds.

For the unversed, the Indian government has approved precautionary booster shots with Covaxin, Sputnik Light, and Covishield vaccines.

While it has been long established that booster shots appear to be highly effective at preventing hospitalisations and even deaths due to the different variants, there are still millions of people who are eligible for it, but have not yet received one.

With other health scares like monkeypox — whose cases are on the rise around the world — social media platforms are abuzz with speculations that Covid vaccines could be playing a role behind its recent outbreak. Is there any truth to it?

https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health-specials/monkeypox-spread-india-surveillance-system-8046301/ Is there a connection between Covid vaccine and monkeypox outbreak? Doctor debunks the myth. (Photo: Getty/Thinktock)

“Especially with regard to vaccines like Covishield and the Astrazeneca that have used chimpanzee adenovirus (AZD1222 or ChAdOx1) in their formulas. But, these claims do not have any scientific explanation behind it,” says Dr Deshmukh.

He explains that apart from Covaxin, which is an “inactivated vaccine”, the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sputnik V, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all “viral vector vaccines”. “They use either human or chimpanzee adenoviruses as the delivery system or vector. The vectors, which are being used in these vaccines, are nothing but the vehicle that carry the vaccine component into human cells, and it does not contribute to developing any infection itself.”

The doctor adds, “There is no point of getting confused with rumours, because after three deadly waves, people should realise how fatal Covid can be and, therefore, after two primary doses of the vaccine, getting jabbed with booster doses is crucial for everyone to combat it.”

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