Amid rising cases of Omicron, a preliminary study by Israeli researchers has shown that a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold in just a week after the shot is administered, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday.
Bennett spoke during a visit to the Sheba Medical Center, where Israel launched a trial of a second booster early last week, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel has become the first country to roll out a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to health workers and people aged 60 years old and those with weakened immune systems.
According to Bennett, the initial results show the fourth dose is as safe as the third dose. The increase in antibodies after a fourth dose indicates "a very high likelihood that the fourth dose will protect vaccinated people to a great degree, against infection to some degree and against severe symptoms", Bennett was quoted as saying.
Israel registered over 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday, a figure previously reached only at the peak of the third wave in January 2021 and of the fourth wave in September. The new surge in cases caused by the highly infectious Omicron variant has been faster than any previous outbreak.
Overall, almost 40,000 new virus carriers were identified in the country in the past week, marking a 240 per cent increase compared to the previous seven days.
The level of breakthrough infections was one of the reasons that brought the Health Ministry to approve an additional shot for the population over 60, the report said. "This is a very, very contagious variant, as we see. Morbidity rises and surges every day. The best answer is the vaccine," said Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash, who got inoculated on Tuesday morning.
"We discussed a lot about the fourth vaccine, it took a few days to approve it, but now that we did, we are sure that it will help us as individuals to deal with the disease and help us as a country to deal with the pandemic," he noted.