Israel sticks with fourth vaccine shot

Israel will keep offering a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot, a senior health official said on Tuesday (January 18), despite early findings that it is not enough to stop Omicron infections.

A preliminary study published by Israel's Sheba Medical Center on Monday (January 17) found the fourth shot increased antibodies to even higher levels than the third.

But it was - quote - "probably" not enough to stop the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Gili Regev-Yochay is a Director at Sheba Medical Center.

"The Pfizer vaccine after two weeks, you see enhancement or increase in the number of antibodies, and neutralizing antibodies, pretty nice increase, it's even a little bit higher than what we had after the third dose. Yet, this is probably not enough for the Omicron."

Israel was the fastest country to roll out vaccinations a year ago.

It started offering a fourth shot - also called a second booster - to its most vulnerable and high-risk groups last month.

Israeli Health Minister Nachman Ash said the fourth dose still offers protection from serious morbidity, especially for the elderly and at-risk population, and encouraged citizens to keep getting vaccinated.

Israel has seen cases rise due to Omicron, but is has not recorded any deaths from it - and predicts cases stoked by the variant will start to wane in a week.

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