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As infections surge, an Israeli study shows fourth COVID injection boosts antibodies five-fold

Over 100,000 Israelis have already received or registered for second booster in the last two days

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visits the coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center, Jan. 4, 2022 (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

As Israel registered more than 10,000 new COVID cases on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the results of an initial study showing that the fourth dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine results in an almost five-fold increase in antibodies.

"Apparently, this will demonstrate a much higher level of protection than without the fourth dose, both in relation to infection and the spread of the virus and in relation to severe morbidity," Bennett said. "In simple Hebrew, the fourth vaccine is safe. That's for sure. The fourth vaccine, very likely, works."

Bennett visited Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer on Tuesday where he was briefed on the preliminary results of the study.

Sheba’s Director of Infectious Disease, Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, who is leading the study, told Bennett that results show the antibody boost occurs a week after injection, indicating that the fourth vaccine is effective and provides protection against serious illness. She also said the new booster seems to have a similar safety profile as the previous injections.

But Dr. Tsvika Granot noted that the vaccine under consideration is a year old, dating back to the original variant.

"Can anyone really tell me whether this vaccine really protects against Omicron? The answer is no," he said during a Channel 12 interview. "Can anyone tell me 100% that administering this same vaccine four times is really safe? The answer is no. Pay attention: You are giving a vaccine – a vaccine – four times in one year. What kind of vaccine works like this? A vaccine is supposed to protect one's immune system. If it doesn't find another one."

While at Sheba, Bennett visited the hospital's coronavirus ward control center where he was briefed on how they are preparing for the highly-contagious Omicron wave.

Following his briefing at Sheba, Bennett reiterated his prediction that tens of thousands of verified cases over the next few days. He encouraged anyone 60 years old and up to get vaccinated.

"The fourth dose will protect vaccinated people to a great degree against infection to some degree and against severe symptoms,” he said. 

Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash received his second booster on Tuesday – his fourth vaccine dose overall.

“We discussed the fourth vaccine a lot,” said Ash.

“It took a few days to approve it, but now that we did, we are sure that it will help us as individuals to deal with the disease and help us as a country to deal with the pandemic,” he noted. “This is a very, very contagious variant, as we see. Morbidity rises and surges every day. The best answer is the vaccine.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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