“We can take cognizance of the fact that a number of western countries are not just contemplating but also advocating booster shots for citizens. News reports say Israel is strongly advocating booster dose, that’s how they have been able to control the disease,” the HC said.
‘Covid booster decision shouldn’t be based on economics’
Why are we not giving Covid boosters? Abroad they have started for some of the vulnerable persons. We need answers, that’s why we are raising these questions,” a bench, comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, observed.
The bench added: “Contradictory reports are coming in on the need for boosters. The AIIMS Director says we will give only when required, but in the West they are advocating, giving booster shots. This is a very serious thing. We are not experts. But how is it that the West is encouraging boosters and we are not permitting even those who want to?”
The bench said senior citizens or those with comorbidities are “anxious whether they require a booster dose and if so when it will be permitted by the government. Reports say also that a large number of vaccine doses are lying unutilised whose shelf-life will also expire in some time to come” and asked the Centre to place its stand.
“Is ICMR looking at the research papers, is booster shot required or not and why… we need to know from experts. It should not be based on economics. It is an expensive proposition no doubt (since vaccines are largely free). But we don’t want a situation where we are overly conservative and we land up like we were in the second wave. We may lose the advantage,” said the bench.
The court underlined that level of antibodies in a vaccinated person comes down after some time, making old people and those with co-morbidities “anxious”. It also asked why should vaccines which are set to expire not be given as booster shots to those fully vaccinated, while hearing a PIL by advocate Rakesh Malhotra, where it is monitoring improvement in capability and infrastructure of the city to tackle the pandemic.
Before listing the case for further hearing on December 14, the HC asked the Centre to bring on record its stand on vaccination of children. After being informed by the Centre that it 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, the bench said the same affidavit may be filed in Malhotra’s PIL.
In other directions, the bench asked the AAP government to regularly update its website Delhi Fights Corona. It also sought to know the status of a proposal to integrate all hospitals and nursing homes in the city on availability of beds and facilities on a real time basis.