Israeli hospital to give fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot in trial

Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv said its trial would shed
light on the efficacy of a fourth dose and help decision-makers set health
policy in Israel and abroad.

Israel has reported 1,118 confirmed cases of the
fast-spreading omicron coronavirus variant, with the number of people infected
by it doubling every two days.

A Health Ministry panel of experts has recommended offering
a fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to Israelis aged 60 and over who
received a booster shot at least four months ago.

But final approval by the ministry’s director-general is
still pending amid public debate as to whether sufficient scientific
information is available to justify a new booster drive.

Sheba Medical Centre did not say how long its trial would

“We will examine the fourth dose’s effect on the level
of antibodies and morbidity and we will gauge its safety,” it quoted Gili
Regev-Yochay, the study’s director, as saying. “We will understand whether
it is worthwhile to administer a fourth shot, and to whom.”

The 150 Sheba medical workers taking part in the trial,
which the hospital said had received Health Ministry approval, got booster
shots no later than Aug 20.

Separately, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office
said he tested negative on Sunday for COVID-19 after his 14-year-old daughter
was infected. It said he would self-isolate.

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