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Covid vaccine programs could end with third dose, Israeli doctor says


A fourth dose is administered to an Israeli nurse by the Pfizer BioNTech CoVID-19 coronavirus vaccination at Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv. The injection was given on December 27, 2021.

Jack Guez | AFP | Getty Images

According to a well-respected Israeli doctor, three vaccines will likely provide adequate protection against severe Covid-19.

In a telephone conversation, Professor Eyal, an infectious disease specialist from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center predicted that a three or four-dose vaccine course would provide long-term protection against serious diseases for most people.

He said that boosters may be needed to adapt to the current variant every few years. However, if future versions prove less dangerous, boosters may not be necessary. It is possible for people to have two to three doses of current vaccines and be exposed to the omicron virus during this wave or to future variants. If they do not get exposed, they may not require another booster.

Israel launched its fourth vaccination program at the end last year. It was intended for people over 65, healthcare workers, and those with compromised immune systems.

Leshem admitted that Israel didn’t have the same scientific support for approval for booster shots. But he claimed experts decided to roll out the fourth dose in the event the antibodies produced by boosters diminishes over time, as was the case with the first two doses.

CNBC’s He stated that “we really don’t have any scientific data” to show that the fourth dose would provide an enhanced level of protection against serious illness and hospitalization. CNBC reported that the recommendation was made based only on experts’ opinions, and not on solid data like we’d prefer in clinical medicine. Expert opinion is used when there’s no evidence. This happens all the time in clinical medical.

Other health authorities in countries around the world are split on the question of whether fourth doses Covid vaccines should be administered.

The U.K. vaccination authority stated last week that there is no immediate need to add a booster. However, this issue remains under review. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that those with severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose as part of their initial series, along with a booster shot.  

This December the CEO of Pfizer told CNBCDue to the transmissible Omicron variant, it is possible that fourth doses will be required sooner than anticipated.

However, the WHO has warnedToo many vaccine boosters could prolong the pandemic in wealthy countries, thereby denying poorer nations access to vaccines.

Vaccination drive

Israel is embarking on an aggressive vaccination programIn an effort to control the pandemic, they had one of fastest vaccination rollouts.

On Sunday, 71% had received at minimum one dose. Sixty-four percent of Israel’s residents were immunized using two doses. Nearly half the population received a booster shot.

The Israeli government considers people who have had their first shot within six months of the last one to be fully vaccinated. Boost shots can still be obtained for those over twelve years. since the summer.

In Israel, individuals must show their vaccination status — or that they have recently recovered from Covid-19 — in order to enter certain venues, including gyms, restaurants and museums.

The country logged 30,970 new cases of the virus on Sunday — the highest number of positive tests in one day since mass testing began.

The number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Israel during the week ended Jan. 9 was 136,569, an increase 331% over the previous week.

According to official data, the virus’ R number — the rate at which it reproduces — has surpassed two, meaning the average infected person will spread Covid-19 to two other people. A R number greater than one indicates that an epidemic is developing rapidly.

Israel’s hospitalizations are on the rise, although they are far from their pandemic height. Our World in Data reports that 733 people were admitted to hospital in the week ending Jan. 8. This is the most weekly numbers since the advent of the omicron version. Israel’s highest hospitalization rate was January 2021. In that week, 1,985 people were admitted.

The omicron wave has not affected fatalities in Israel, however.

A Covid-19 victim died on Sunday in the country. This individual had been vaccinated. Over the past month, Covid-19 has caused two deaths per day. Israel saw a record of 60+ deaths per day in January 2012.  

CNBC spoke with Leshem, who said the hospitalization rate for severe illnesses and other serious conditions could rise as there’s usually a delay in rising incidences and their consequences.

However, we do not expect to see an increase in the number of patients taking Omicron as much as with other variants.” he stated. Omicron appears “inherently milder in most people, and this may have to do with viral biology — its affinity to the upper airways as contrary to affinity to the lower airways, which causes pneumonia.”

He also said that Israel’s large uptake of booster shot and the young country were both likely to prevent any increase in severe diseases.