An expert panel advising the Israeli Health Ministry on the coronavirus recommended administering a fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to Israelis aged 18 and above, provided that five months have passed since they received a third shot or recovered from the disease.
The announcement came after the Health Ministry said the fourth shot, already administered to those aged 60 and above, offers three times the level of protection against serious illness than those who were thrice-vaccinated, and twice the level of protection against infection.
The ministry came to its findings after analysing the data of 400,000 people who had received a fourth shot and 600,000 who had received a third shot.
The Health Ministry’s director has not yet approved the committee’s recommendation.
The recommendation, however, was not welcomed by all.
Prof. Regev-Yochay from the Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s leading hospital, said the number of younger Israelis in serious condition is still low and administering a fourth dose to “young people is wrong.”
The Sheba Medical Center also released a a study last week that showed that while a fourth shot increased antibodies more than the third one, it was still not enough to prevent the spread of Omicron.
Israel was the first country to introduce a booster shot as well as the first to introduce a fourth job of the vaccine to over 60s and at-risk populations. It’s now expected to be the first country to begin administering booster shots to children over the age of five.
Despite its aggressive vaccination campaign, earlier this week Israel became the leading country in the world for daily infection rate, with more than one in 20 Israelis recorded as positive for coronavirus.
Prof. Eran Segal, a leading health expert and adviser to the Israeli government, notes the dubious distinction of being first in the rate of infections might also be due to the high volume of tests performed each day.
Eran also predicted that the current wave, the country’s fifth, is expected to decline in a week or so.
Coronavirus Conscience: An Israeli gave back a 2,000-year-old catapult bolt to the Israel Antiquities Authority some 15 years after he took off with it. https://t.co/OdwiniMmfy
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 19, 2020
“During the coming week we will start to see a decrease in the number of infections. We have already seen a decrease in infections in people over 60. This week we will reach 50,000 or 40,000 cases a day,” Segal told Channel 12 news.
Starting this Thursday, the country will scrap quarantine for children exposed to coronavirus carriers. Those who test positive will still be required to isolate for a minimum of five days.
Over the past two weeks, 900,000 Israelis, out of a population of 9.3 million, have tested positive. A total of 125 Israelis died from coronavirus over the past week, bringing the death toll to 8,487.