Israel mulls booster jab as Covid cases mount

Pfizer vaccination Photo: Shutterstock Small365

As the Delta variant spreads and Pfizer acknowledges that the effect of the vaccine is waning, Israel must decide whether to administer a third dose.

As the Delta variant spreads swiftly around Israel, the country has recorded more than 2,000 new Covid cases for the second consecutive day. 2,260 people tested positive for Covid in Israel on Tuesday, the highest figure since March, the Ministry of Health reports. The figure was up from 2,124 on Monday and up from 1,400 week-on-week.

The number of seriously ill Covid patients jumped to 153, up from a low of 19 in June, and more than double the number from last week, with 45 new serious cases over the past day alone. The R rate has risen to 1.3, equaling the peak of previous waves, and more than 2% of tests are being returned as positive.

Against the backdrop of Israel's fourth wave and mounting new cases, Israel's Ministry of Health is to discuss the controversial proposal to administer a third jab of the Pfizer vaccination. The world watched with satisfaction as Israel's rapid vaccine rollout, which began in December, proved the efficacy of the jabs but now looks on in concern as the effectiveness of the vaccination is fading, both in terms of preventing infection and serious complications.

Scientists at BioNTech, which developed the vaccine for Pfizer, agree that it is a reasonable assumption that a third vaccination will be effective in combating the virus. But there are disputes over the practical way to move forward and under what conditions.

Two weeks ago Pfizer and BioNTech put out a joint statement that a third booster vaccination had shown "encouraging results." The companies said that a third vaccination raises the level of antibodies for those who were inoculated six months ago and that the side effects were similar to the second vaccination. The announcement also reported the fading of the effect of the vaccination in Israel but said it was difficult to know if the fall was due to the time passed since the vaccinations or because of the Delta variant, or a combination of the two. The announcement did not mention that Israel had already begun administering third jabs on very high risk groups and that Pfizer is monitoring the results.

Meanwhile the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) have announced that there is no need for a third vaccination for the time being, especially as many Americans have yet to receive their first two vaccinations. Over the last month the number of Americans testing positive for Covid has increased seven-fold while fatalities have only rose 50%.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said, "The antibodies are going down and vaccine protection against the new variant is considerably lower. Now every government and every individual will have to decide for themselves if they are interested in an additional vaccination or to allow the disease to spread, knowing that most of those vaccinated are probably protected against the virus threatening their lives."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 28, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Pfizer vaccination Photo: Shutterstock Small365
Pfizer vaccination Photo: Shutterstock Small365
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