KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 – Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett yesterday said a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose can boost antibodies five-fold a week after the shot is administered, citing preliminary findings of an Israeli study.
“A week into the fourth dose we know to a higher degree of certainty that the fourth dose is safe,” Bennett said, according to The Guardian. Bennett was speaking at Sheba Medical Centre in Israel, which is giving second booster shots in a trial among its staff.
“The second piece of news: we know that a week after administration of a fourth dose, we see a five-fold increase in the number of antibodies in the vaccinated person,” he said.
“This most likely means a significant increase against infection and … hospitalisation and (severe) symptoms,” Bennett said.
Israel became the first country in the world to commence a fourth Covid-19 vaccination campaign in an effort to contain increasing infections caused by Omicron.
Daily infections have increased by more than 10 times over the past month from a seven-day average of 518 on December 6, 2021, to 5,649 on January 4, 2022, according to Israel’s Health Ministry data. Severe illness has also seen a slight rise from 107 to 116 cases over the same period, although daily Covid-19 deaths have remained below four.
Israel has expanded its fourth Covid-19 vaccine programme to people above the age of 60 and health care workers who received their third shot about four to five months ago. A fourth Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 shot was earlier given in a rollout that began last week to elderly people and those with impaired immune systems such as heart and lung transplant patients.
Some Israeli medical experts previously said more data was needed on the efficacy of a fourth shot before making it more widely available.
The Guardian cited an Israeli health ministry official as saying on Tuesday that even though the ministry believes the threat posed by Omicron is minimal, it had been forced to act more quickly as infection rates soar.
More than 4.2 million people out of Israel’s 9.2 million total population have received three Covid-19 vaccine shots. A total of 1.4 million cases of Covid-19 infection, including 8,247 deaths, have been officially recorded in Israel, according to Our World in Data.