Israel has begun trials for a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for healthy patients as it looks set to roll out the additional booster shot to at-risk populations. The Sheba Medical Center said it is the first time in the world that healthy subjects have received a fourth injection of the Covid-19 vaccine.
About 150 health professionals whose antibody levels have fallen are part of the trial at Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv.
“I don’t really feel like a guinea pig,” Dr. Jacob Lavee, former director of the Heart Transplant Unit at Sheba Medical Center, told DailyExpertNews. “I volunteered for research that’s been done here in previous shots, mainly booster shots, because I know my own immunity has dropped below the threshold, and so not only have I been potentially exposed to Omicron, but more importantly, I’d be a potentially endanger the heart transplant patients I care for.”
On December 21, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed a decision by a panel of experts to recommend the additional booster for people over 60, health professionals and people with suppressed immune systems. But the director-general of the Ministry of Health has yet to sign it.
“Great news, don’t waste your time – get vaccinated,” Bennett said in a statement at the time.
Those eligible for the fourth dose will receive it provided that at least four months have passed since the third dose, the government said in the statement.
“The State of Israel remains at the forefront of global efforts to cope with the pandemic. The citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and we also continue to pioneer the fourth dose,” Bennett added.
The first results of the study are expected by the end of the week, by which time Israel’s rising Covid-19 caseload is likely to be even heavier.
“I don’t think it’s right, right now, but it could change in a week,” Dr. Gili-Regev Yochay, director of the Infection Prevention Control Unit at Sheba Medical Center, told DailyExpertNews. “It depends on what we see happening in England, and here too – if we see there is a more serious illness it might be correct. That is why it is so important to start an investigation as soon as possible.”