Srinagar: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Tuesday said the COVID-19 vaccine would likely become an annual affair just like the flu vaccine.
“To keep COVID in check and stay ahead of new variants, people may need yearly shots as they do for the flu,” said DAK President Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan.
Dr Hassan said COVID-19 had entered into an endemic stage and become yet another infection joining many other diseases that people have learned to live with.
“Cases will wax and wane. Outbreaks will pop up here and there,” he said. “While primary vaccination is effective in preventing severe COVID infection, immunity wanes over time. Annual immunisation could prevent future societal disruptions and save lives.”
Dr Hassan said that autumn could be the optimal time to get the COVID-19 vaccine as COVID could eventually become seasonal similar to flu that peaks in autumn and winter.
The DAK president said that as COVID-19 continues to evolve with the emergence of new variants, there might be a need to update the vaccine according to the strain circulating at that time.
“Omicron and its sub-variants infected many vaccinated individuals highlighting the fact that updating COVID-19 vaccines may be necessary to fight future variants and prevent more surges,” he said. “To have long-term efficacy against COVID-19, it may be necessary for vaccines to include multiple variants of the novel virus. This strategy is routinely applied against influenza and all formulations in recent years have included three to four variant forms.”
Dr Hassan said that the UK had approved Moderna’s updated bivalent vaccine that targets both the original virus and the first Omicron strain, known as BA.1.
He said that the tweaked vaccine would now form part of the autumn booster campaign in the country.
“The US has requested vaccine manufactures to develop shots that target both the original virus and the latest Omicron strains, known as BA.4/5 which are driving the fresh waves of COVID cases globally and are known to evade vaccine induced immunity,” he said. “India too is working on Omicron vaccine which will be specific to the BA.5 subvariant of the Omicron strain.”