A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold a week after the shot is administered, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said, citing preliminary findings of an Israeli study.
“A week into the fourth dose we know to a higher degree of certainty that the fourth dose is safe,” Bennett said at Sheba Medical Center, which is giving second booster shots in a trial among its staff amid a nationwide surge in Omicron variant infections.
“The second piece of news: We know that a week after administration of a fourth dose, we see a five-fold increase in the number of antibodies in the vaccinated person,” he told reporters.
“This most likely means a significant increase against infection and … hospitalisation and [severe] symptoms,” Bennett said in English.
Sheba hospital spokesman Steve Walz said the study used Pfizer jabs, adding that a separate trial of fourth vaccine shots for 150 people using the Moderna vaccine would start this week.
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 wide population a year ago and one of the first to give third shots as boosters.
It is now administering fourth doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people over 60, health workers and immunocompromised patients.
On Tuesday, the health ministry reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases for the previous day, compared with a daily average of less than 4,000 the previous week.
More than four million people from Israel’s population of 9.4 million have received three shots of coronavirus vaccine.
The country has officially recorded more than 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 infection, including 8,247 deaths.
Israel had come under scrutiny for not initially providing Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories vaccines, and was urged to do more to ensure Palestinian access to vaccinations as it inoculated its own citizens at world-leading speed.
There are more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Rights groups have said that Israel, as an occupying power, is obliged to provide vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel denied having such an obligation, pointing to interim peace agreements reached with the Palestinians in the 1990s.
Disparities in accessing vaccinations have played out across the globe as the bulk of vaccines have gone to wealthy countries. As those countries have made progress containing their own outbreaks, they have recently begun pledging supplies for poorer countries that were left behind for months.