Vaccine shield down? Early-bird doctors get Covid; hospitals seek booster shot in Kolkata – Times of India

Kolkata News

KOLKATA: Several fully vaccinated doctors and health workers have tested Covid positive over the past 10 days in at least three city hospitals, two private and one state-run, triggering alarm in health circles. They had taken their first two doses by February and may have run out of antibodies that had acted as a shield till the second wave, some experts feel. Variants of Covid could also be the reason behind their infection, others say.
This has led worried hospital authorities and experts to seek a third booster dose for those who would be at the frontline during the ensuing third wave, which, according to many, has already hit.
Several hospitals have already reported a spurt in Covid admissions in the past week.
Three doctors of Medica Superspecialty Hospital are now Covid-positive, but none has required hospitalisation. A few nurses at SSKM Hospital have also been infected in recent weeks, according to a hospital official, but they too are being treated at home.
“We may soon see an extension of Covid units and more doctors and health workers would be deputed. We definitely need a third dose for all health workers as they had received both doses by February and their resistance might have waned. Unfortunately, there’s no such provision yet,” said Medica chairperson Alok Roy.
According to Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education & Research professor Diptendra Sarkar, there is no evidence yet that suggests we need a third dose. “Two are enough to ensure that we get a mild infection which will be treatable at home and fatality will be very low. So, health workers shouldn’t be worried,” he said.
Several doctors at AMRI Hospitals, too, had Covid after double vaccination, said CEO Rupak Barua. “But they had mild infections. Our safety protocol, though, remains in force and will be strictly enforced now that numbers are rising,” he added.
A senior doctor of Woodlands Hospital is now admitted with Covid. “The antibodies post-vaccination could be active but immune response varies from person to person. The elderly and those with comorbidities remain vulnerable even after vaccination,” said Woodlands CEO Rupali Basu.
With Covid numbers rising, jittery hospitals have enhanced safety measures. Peerless Hospital — which now has 31 Covid patients, up from 20 in less than a week — has reiterated the need for PPEs for all health workers. “We have a large number of non-Covid patients now and visitors’ entry is not restricted unlike last year. So, we may have to bar visitors soon and have instructed all employees to wear PPE,” said hospital CEO Sudipta Mitra.
Peerless Hospital microbiologist Bhaskar Narayan Chaudhuri, who himself had Covid after two doses, pointed out that the virus is evolving and doctors were at risk from variants. “Once the entire adult population has received the first dose, the vaccine should be sold over the counter so that we can protect as many as possible. Subsequently, Covid vaccine should be an annual one like the optional influenza vaccine that we now have,” he said.