Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced this week that a fourth COVID-19 vaccine could boost antibodies five times within a week of administering. The prime minister reported the results of a preliminary study on hospital personnel that shows that receiving a second booster greatly increases immunity. The prime minister has approved the second booster for Israeli residents 60 years of age and older, health workers and immunocompromised patients.
The news comes as Israel is experiencing a 41 percent increase in severe COVID cases in one week, with the Omicron variant driving the growth. Launched on Dec. 27, the Sheba trial administered a fourth dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine to 150 medical personnel whose level of antibodies had significantly dropped since they received their third doses four to five months ago. Another group at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv will receive Moderna’s vaccine for their fourth dose this week, Sheba said.
“A week into the fourth dose, we know with a high level of certainty that the fourth dose is safe,” Bennett said alongside professor Galia Rahav, head of Sheba’s infectious disease unit and leader of the study.
Israel has played a leading role in studying the effects of COVID-19 vaccines, as the fastest country to roll out two-dose inoculations to a broad population a year ago and one of the first to give third shots as boosters.
More than four million people from Israel’s population of 9.4 million have received three shots of the coronavirus vaccine.
The country has officially recorded over 1.4 million cases of Covid-19 infection, including 8,247 deaths.