In a big move, the central government has allowed the precautionary or booster Covid-19 dose for all above 18 years of age from April 10 across private vaccination centres of the country. The health ministry said today that those above 18 years of age, and those who have completed 9 months after taking the second Covid-19 dose, will be eligible for this booster shot across private centres.

"It has been decided that precaution dose of COVID vaccines will be made available to 18+ population groups at private vaccination centres. The administration of precaution dose to 18+ population through private vaccination centres would start from April 10, 2022 (Sunday)," the health ministry said.

The ministry also said the ongoing free vaccination programme through government vaccination centres — for the first and second Covid-19 vaccine dose to the eligible population as well as precaution dose to healthcare workers, frontline workers and 60+ population — will continue and will be accelerated.

So far, about 96% of all 15+ population in the country have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, while about 83% of the 15+ population has received both doses. Over 2.4 crore precaution doses have also been administered to healthcare workers, frontline workers and 60+ population groups. Over 45% of the 12 to 14 years age group have also received the first dose.

Vaccination exceeds 185.38 cr

India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 185.38 crore in 2.2 crore sessions, the ministry data released till 7 am today showed. The Covid-19 vaccination for the age group 12-14 years was started on 16 March 2022. So far, over 2.11 crore adolescents have been administered the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the ministry said.

India's Covid graph is also on a consistent decline. The active caseload today declined to 11,492, thereby constituting 0.03% of the country's total positive cases. The country's recovery rate stands at 98.76%. In the past day, 1,213 patients have recovered, taking the cumulative tally of recovered patients to 4.2 crore. Despite low Covid infections, the pace of testing has not reduced. In the past day, 4,53,582 Covid-19 tests were conducted, taking the total tally to 79.29 crore so far.

In terms of daily and weekly positivity rates, there has been a sustained fall to 0.24% and 0.23%, respectively.

Same Covid, new fears

While India has seen a consistent decline in Covid-19 cases in the past several weeks, the reported detection of the Omicron XE subvariant of Covid in Mumbai has raised fears. A 50-year-old woman, who had a travel history to South Africa in February, tested positive for Omicron XE in Mumbai. She was asymptomatic with no comorbidities. She was also vaccinated with both vaccine doses.

Though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said it's a confirmed case of Omicron XE, the health ministry clarified it does not seem to be an 'XE' variant of Covid-19. The confusion over whether Omicron XE, which as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) is 10% more transmissible than other Covid variants, still remains. The National Institute of Virology, Pune, has now been tasked by the Centre to analyse the sample and submit final observations on the case.

Follow us on Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp to never miss an update from Fortune India. To buy a copy, visit Amazon.