Do Covid-19 vaccine boosters help? This Israeli study has answers
Data from Israel shows a booster shot of Pfizer Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine has significantly improved immunity and offered protection from serious illness among people aged 60 and above, as the US and other countries have announced plans to give additional doses amid the spread of highly infectious Delta variant.
The United States has announced plans to offer booster shots to all Americans, citing data showing diminishing protection and Canada, France and Germany have also announced booster campaigns.
Findings published by Israel’s health ministry showed on Sunday that the protection against infection provided from 10 days after a third dose was four times higher than after two doses among those aged 60 and over. It also showed that the third jab for over 60-year-olds offered five to six times greater protection after 10 days with regard to serious illness and hospitalisation. That age group is particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 and in Israel, it was the first to be vaccinated against Covid-19 when the inoculation drive began in late December.
The data were presented at a meeting of a ministry panel of vaccination experts on Thursday and uploaded to its website on Sunday. However, the full details of the study have not been released.
Last week, Maccabi Health Services, one of several organisations administering booster shots to try to curb the Delta variant, also had similar findings with separate statistics.
Maccabi Health Services in a study released last Wednesday said that the booster shot reduced the risk of infection in the 60-plus age group by 86 per cent and against severe infection by 92 per cent. The findings by Maccabi are based on real-world data from a relatively large group. Pfizer and Moderna Inc have also said their own studies showed a booster shot would improve protection.
Israel’s health ministry has said that immunity has diminished over time for the elderly in the country as well as the young. Most vaccinated people who fell severely ill in Israel were over 60 and had underlying health conditions.
Israel started administering the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to those over 60-year-olds on July 30. It has now revised the age of eligibility for a booster to 40 and also said that pregnant women, teachers and health care workers below that age can also get the third shot. Third doses are given only to those who received their second shot at least five months ago.
Israel, which has been fighting an outbreak of the Delta variant since June, has one of the world's highest infection rates per capita. Close to 1.5 million people out of the country's 9.3 million population have taken the third jab. Israel was the first country to fully vaccinate a majority of its citizens against Covid-19.
(With agency inputs)