Israeli Experts Back 4th Dose

Advisory panel recommends the move, but other experts want to wait for data
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2021 3:35 PM CST
Israel Debates 4th Shot
Medics conduct COVID-19 tests on Palestinians entering Israel from the Gaza Strip at the Erez Crossing, on the Israel-Gaza border, on Dec. 16.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The evidence that it would help is not overwhelming, but Israel nevertheless is considering approving a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine after receiving an expert panel's recommendation. Israel has moved quickly on getting its population vaccinated and was an early adopter on third doses of vaccine. With the omicron variant spreading fast, the nation's health experts want to maintain its rapid response, the New York Times reports. "The price will be higher if we don't vaccinate," the head of the expert advisory panel said Wednesday. "We don't have a lot of time to make decisions."

The panel's reasoning is based on the fact that coronavirus immunity began to fade a few months after people received the third dose of vaccine. The panel said that if there's a pause before administering a fourth round, it might not come in time to protect the most vulnerable in the population. The decision is up to the Health Ministry. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett supports another dose, and the health minister said distribution could start by Sunday. Germany's health minister said Thursday that his nation probably will go to a fourth round in the next year, once it sees how the third dose's protection holds up.

The World Health Organization's director-general is among those skeptical of ordering up more shots, per an analysis in the Jerusalem Post. "No country can boost its way out of the pandemic," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who also has urged holding up on boosters until poor nations have vaccine. Moving to a fourth dose this quickly after the third, Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman writes in the Post, reflects the failure of other strategies against COVID-19. "Just because we led with the third dose does not mean that there should be a fourth dose with no scientific basis," said the head of a coronavirus ward in Jerusalem. (The latest studies suggest that omicron results in milder cases than delta.)

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