On Monday, an Israeli hospital said the initial study indicates a 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose provides only limited defense against the protection against the highly Omicron variant that’s raging worldwide.
An Israeli Sheba hospital said its initial study conducted in December through administering the 4th dose of Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to around 270 medical workers, who have already received three doses of Pfizer or Moderna, indicated only limited protection against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The clinical trial found that both groups – 120 people receiving Moderna and 154 others who received Pfizer/BioNTech’s – showed increases in antibodies slightly higher than after the 3rd dose in 2021. But it said the increased antibody levels didn’t prevent the Omicron transmission.
The director of the hospital’s infection disease unit, Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, in spite of increased antibodies, the 4th vaccine doses only offer a partial defense against the lethal virus. In addition, the coronavirus vaccines, which were more effective against previous strains, provide less protection versus the new Omicron.
The preliminary findings raised queries about Israel’s decision to offer a second booster dose – and 4th overall dose – to its over-sixty population. The administration says more than 0.5M people have received the 2nd booster in recent weeks.
Moreover, the director of Israel’s Health Ministry, Dr. Nahman Ash, said the study didn’t mean the 4th vaccine effort was a mistake. Instead, he told news media that it returns the antibody levels to what it was at the start of the third booster shot. That has extreme importance, exclusively among the older population. However, he added the study would be taken into account as officials debate whether to expand the extra booster drive to the broader population.
Immunization Developments Across the World
In other developments on Monday, New Zealand started vaccinating children ages 5-11-years with Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine. According to the Health Ministry, over 0.12M jabs have been delivered to 500 immunization centers countrywide.
Auckland’s COVID-19 vaccination program clinical director, Dr. Anthony Jordan, said in a statement that getting inoculated now is a great way to help save children before they resume schooling. The evidence shows that while children may have milder COVID-19 symptoms, some will still get very ill and end up in hospital if they contract the fatal disease. He added getting inoculated also helps to prevent them from spreading it on to susceptible family members.
The infectious Omicron surge is threatening South American hospitals. For example, according to media reports, Argentina had an average of 0.112M a day confirmed cases in the week through 16th January, and the country’s federation of private healthcare providers assesses nearly 15 percent of its health employees presently have the lethal virus.
Moreover, the news agency reported strains on hospitals in Chile, Brazil, and Bolivia. In Hong Kong, law enforcement charged two Cathay Pacific flight attendants with breaching COVID-19 rules. The two were released on bail and are due in court the following month. They face up to 6-months in jail and a fine of 640 dollars. The People’s Republic of China canceled plans to sell tickets to the general public for the Beijing Winter Olympics amid the Omicron transmission. Instead, tickets would be distributed to targeted groups of people, according to the organizing committee.
Aggressive Inoculation Efforts
The Israeli state was one of the first nations in 2021 to widely immunize its people and last summer pioneered to inject a COVID-19 booster dose. The latest booster drive for older Israeli people also is believed to be the first of its kind over the globe.
The aggressive inoculation efforts of Israel haven’t been able to prevent an Omicron outbreak in the last weeks. The highly contagious variant has caused record-setting infection levels and sent an increasing number of people to the hospital, though the count of severely ill remains below previous strains. Moreover, it has forced many Israelis into quarantine, straining businesses, and schools.