JERUSALEM — A medical panel advising the Israeli government has recommended making fourth coronavirus vaccine doses available to people age 18 and over, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, citing what it suggested were some early signs of the effectiveness of an additional shot in helping prevent serious illness.
The ministry has yet to approve the recommendation. This comes weeks after Israel began offering fourth doses of Omicron to people over 60, as well to medical professionals and people with weakened immune system, as it prepared for an increase in Omicron-related infections. It was the first country to offer these additional shots.
The panel recommended that people over 18 receive a fourth shot within five months of completing their recovery from Covid-19. A total of 600,000 Israelis have received a fourth dose.
Sunday’s announcement by the Health Ministry highlighted initial results from four Israeli scientific institutions and its own research. These showed that a fourth dose of the vaccine provided three to five times more protection against serious illness for people over 60 than those who had received a third shot at least four month ago.
Researchers at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv found that a fourth dose given to 154 medical workers produced a fivefold increase in antibodies in recipients’ blood within a week. Higher levels of antibodies could provide additional protection against serious illnesses.
Prof. Gili RegevYochay is the director at Sheba’s Infectious Disease Unit and is leading the small study. However, he cautioned Kan public radio that it is not clear how long the additional protection will last.
Experts believe Israel is at the peak of its Omicron epidemic. There are currently more than 90,000. New cases per day in Israel, which has a population of just over nine millions.
Source: NY Times