Over 3 million Israelis get 3rd COVID booster shot

Study finds third dose boosts body’s immunity about tenfold.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Over three million Israelis have received a third Pfizer-developed booster shot, a milestone in the country’s ongoing battle against the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Ministry of Health updated Sunday that 3,034,363 received the vaccine, about half of the some six million who received the first shot.

The Ministry of Health called on “everyone who is eligible and has not done so – to go out and get vaccinated.”

“The vaccine has been shown to be the most effective means of fighting the Coronavirus and is available to everyone. Everyone who gets vaccinated protects themselves, their family and their environment. First, second or third vaccine – get vaccinated!” the ministry stated.

An Israeli study published Wednesday suggests that the booster vaccine dose is highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and severe illness.

Israel was the first country in the world to vaccinate a significant portion of its population, and the first to endorse a formal booster vaccination policy.

A new study by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel’s Ministry of Health, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Gertner Institute at Sheba Medical Center and the KI Research Institute shows that a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine is effective at preventing both infection and severe illness.

The study’s findings suggest that the third dose boosts the immunity of its recipients about tenfold compared to those who had received only two doses of the vaccine at least five months earlier.

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Despite the initial success of its vaccination campaign, Israel has been facing a widespread infection resurgence, and by the end of August, infection rates reached over 10,000 confirmed daily cases and more than 600 people were hospitalized with severe illness.

Early data gathered in Israel and other countries suggest that vaccine-elicited immunity wanes over time. As a response, Israeli authorities approved the administration of a booster dose in mid-July, first to high-risk populations, and by the end of July to all people aged 60 years and older. Soon after, the booster campaign was expanded to include all vaccinated individuals in the country who had received their second dose at least five months earlier.

However, the government expected the third shot to have a dramatic effect on COVID-19 in Israel, and that has not happened.

A high number of 717 Israelis are hospitalized in serious condition, of them 195 are on life support. This number dropped slightly but was back up shortly after.

Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Prof. Nachman Ash told Israeli Radio on Sunday that there were 7,500 verified new cases. “It’s a lot for Shabbat,” he said.

“I personally do not see the end of this [fourth] wave. The number of patients in serious condition is also high,” he said.

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In the first two weeks of September, 358 Israelis have died of Corona, an even higher number than in August.

The total death toll stands at 7,507.