New Delhi: Even as the US, the UK and Israel prepare to administer booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine to its citizens, the expert panel under the government has said ‘not enough data’ has been generated locally to decide on the need for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for those fully inoculated. This comes days after All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) director Dr Randeep Guleria warned citizens to avoid stepping out unnecessarily as a possible third wave of the pandemic looms around the corner.Also Read - Kerala Lockdown: State Imposes Stringent Lockdown In Urban, Panchayat Wards | Check Guidelines Here 

An expert panel set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has predicted that the third wave of COVID-19 can hit the country anytime between September and October and suggested significantly ramping up the vaccination pace. However, the need for booster doses will be determined by the epidemiology of the Covid infection in the country besides the durability of protection provided by the current dosage regime of the vaccines, experts said. Also Read - Goa Lockdown: Casinos, Massage Parlours To Reopen From Monday; State Issues Guidelines

AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria also asserted there is no definite evidence to suggest currently that there is a need to give booster shots to those who have been vaccinated in the past. “Current data suggests that the vaccines are effective in preventing severe disease and death in those who have been vaccinated, even against the Delta variant,” he said. Also Read - 84-year-old Kerala Woman Gets Both Doses of Covid Vaccine Within 30 Minutes

“India will decide on booster dose based on scientific evidence generated locally. Studies are already underway to determine the need and timing of booster for currently used vaccines in the country,” said Dr NK Arora, chairman of the COVID-19 working group of NTAGI, adding that any booster dose regime has also to ensure that adverse events are not associated with boosting.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has sought a two-month halt on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines in view of severely constrained vaccine availability around the globe.

“We should vaccinate those who have not even received a single dose and are in the high-risk category first so as to prevent severe disease and death in the upcoming wave. Currently, booster shots are not required and as more data emerges it will then be clear when and what type of booster shot is required,” the AIIMS Director said.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16, starting with healthcare and frontline workers. Currently, all citizens above the age of 18 are urged to get vaccinated against coronavirus.