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India considers extending COVID booster vaccine to entire adult population: sources

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By Krishna N. Das

NEW DELHI, March 21 (Reuters) – India is seen making all adults eligible for booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, two sources said on Monday, as infections are rising in some countries. and many people find it difficult to travel abroad without a third dose.

Currently, only frontline workers and those over the age of 60 can access a booster dose in India, either free at government centers or paid for at private clinics.

The government is debating whether to provide reinforcements to other groups for free, said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because no decision has yet been made.

A spokesman for the Health Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

India’s Serum Institute (SII), whose Covishield vaccine dominates the country’s immunization programme, said on Monday it stopped vaccine production in December but still had a stock of 200 million doses. It has produced 1.9 billion doses in total.

So CEO Adar Poonawalla told CNBC-TV18 that they would restart production of the vaccine, a version of AstraZeneca’s, if demand picks up through the need for boosters or in any other way.

Meanwhile, India’s Health Ministry has urged states to boost COVID-19 surveillance measures, citing a resurgence of cases in parts of Asia and Europe. China and Italy have seen a recent spike in infections.

COVID cases in India have fallen to their lowest level in more than a year, with 1,549 new infections reported in the last 24 hours and 31 deaths. India’s total infections now rise to more than 43 million, with 516,510 deaths.

The country of about 1.4 billion people has administered 1.81 billion doses of vaccines, more than 20 million as booster doses.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)

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