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Health Ministry: 4th dose triples protection from serious illness for over-60s

Ministry says 2nd booster also doubles protection against infection during current wave; officials mull scrapping Green Pass restrictions

Health care staff receive a 4th dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at the Sheba Medical Center, on January 5, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Health care staff receive a 4th dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at the Sheba Medical Center, on January 5, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said on Sunday that the fourth vaccine dose for those aged 60 and up offers a threefold protection against serious illness and twofold protection against infection in the current wave driven by the Omicron variant.

The ministry said the figures are the result of initial analysis by experts from various leading academic and health institutions, and compares the fourth vaccine with those who received three doses at least four months ago.

The figures are based on 400,000 Israelis who received the fourth vaccine and 600,000 who received three doses, with the ministry stressing that the methodology is similar to previous papers the experts have published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

The initial results will be updated over time as more data comes in.

Last week, preliminary results of a study conducted by the Sheba Medical Center revealed that although the fourth dose of the vaccine increased the level of antibodies in the blood, it did not seem to offer protection against infection by the Omicron variant.

Health officials were also reportedly considering canceling the Green Pass rules that have for many months been limiting entry to most public spaces only to those who had either been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months, or had taken a negative test in the previous 72 hours. The restrictions are set to expire within eight days.

A man displays the Green Pass on his cellphone in Jerusalem, October 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The development comes as more and more leading experts say the mass infections caused by the Omicron variant, including among the recently vaccinated, render the Green Pass rules increasingly obsolete.

The Walla news website said a panel of health experts advising the government decided Sunday evening to recommend that the Green Pass be nixed entirely at the end of the month.

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