Less than 30,000 booster doses daily in December.
India's vaccine coverage has been flat in the last two months.
Nearly 600,000 daily fresh cases of COVID-19 are being reported daily elsewhere in the world, but Indians do not seem to be interested in taking booster vaccine shots.
The reason for the complacency could be that the country is reporting an average of 153 cases daily. The State machinery has sprung back to action, with states and the Centre holding high-level review meetings.
India has inoculated 90 percent of the eligible population: A number that includes 20 million precaution doses, the name given for the third shot.
As many as 2.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country since the beginning of the drive in January 2021, the Union health ministry stated.
A Business Standard analysis found that India administered less than 30,000 booster doses daily in December. (See chart 1).
India's vaccine coverage has been flat in the last two months, data showed.
India's booster coverage increased from 13.7 booster dose per 100 people on September 19 to 15.7 booster dose per 100 people as of December 20.
In comparison, Bangladesh improved its count from 26.4 doses per 100 people to 35.4 doses per 100 people in the same period.
Germany went from 71.7 shots per 100 people to 77 shots per 100 people. (See chart 2).
Private hospitals in India said there has been no demand uptick in the last two months when China's COVID-19 situation started unfolding.
"Although we have not seen an increase in off take in booster doses in the last month, I would think it will pick up now with the news of outbreaks in other countries and consequent higher state of alertness in India," said Dilip Jose, managing director and CEO, Manipal Hospitals headquartered in Bangalore.
"There is a good cohort of hybrid immunity. We have taken boosters. Those who have not taken it must take the third shot. We should wear masks in crowded areas," said Dr Bishnu Panigrahi, group head, medical strategy and operations, Fortis Healthcare.
As for booster shots, dR Panigrahi said, "We are not seeing any rush at this point in time."
Fortis plans to send an advisory for its entire staff to adhere to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in the hospital.
"We will test for Covid if we see any flu-like symptoms in patients," he added.
A survey by LocalCircles covering more than 19,000 respondents across the country between October 1 and December 20 found that 28 per cent Indians have taken booster doses. Around 53 per cent have not and do not plan to either.
"Reports of many sudden deaths in young and middle aged across the country in the last three months and some attributing the same to the vaccine combined with decline in Covid cases has led to more people becoming reluctant to take the booster dose," said Sachin Taparia, founder of LocalCircles, a community social media platform.
"Covid is currently perceived as a minor illness, and many are debating whether taking a precautionary dosage is actually necessary. The word precaution dosage further confuses individuals because they were told that a complete immunization required two doses," said Dr Arunesh Kumar, head, department of pulmonology and respiratory medicine, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
Clinically, Dr Kumar said, they would advise people to take boosters every six months.
"People may be more willing to take a booster dosage after receiving counseling on the benefits of doing so. Every six months, we advise patients to take a booster dosage. Every six months, I personally take a booster dosage since new infections might arise with new variants," Dr Kumar added.
"Although there has not yet been a spike in demand for booster dosage, there is always a need for a booster dose in general."
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com