Israel’s Sheba Hospital began a clinical trial on Monday to test the efficacy of the fourth dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 among 6,000 people, including 150 health workers.
The study, the first of its kind in the world, is being conducted in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Health, which is awaiting results to start giving the fourth dose to people over sixty years of age who suffer from immune problems and health workers. The panel of experts that recommended last week recommended advice to the government on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This study will test the effect of the fourth dose of the vaccine on the level of antibodies, preventing infection and ensuring its safety,” said Professor Gili Regev Yochai, a physician in Sheba on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
The study was supposed to start 15 days earlier with a smaller group, but it was postponed because it did not get the necessary approvals.
“It is hoped that this study will demonstrate the additional benefit of a fourth dose and lead us to understand whether and to whom it is worth giving a fourth dose,” he added.
After the Advisory Committee of Experts advised the start of the fourth dose campaign in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised to launch an “immediate plan” to contain the fifth wave of the pandemic and the spread of the omicron variable.
The start of the campaign was announced on Sunday but has been postponed by the Ministry of Health, after reviewing preliminary data indicating that those with the Omicron variant are between 50 and 70% less likely to need hospitalization than those with the Delta variant.
The director-general of the ministry, Nachman Asch, has not yet given the “green light” to start the fourth vaccination campaign, and is analyzing studies and data available so far, such as those by the British Health Security Agency, under which the omicron variant produces milder diseases, although it It spreads faster and more evasively with vaccines.
Nachman Asch is expected to make a decision later this week, rejecting the expert advisory panel’s recommendation.
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