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Israeli hospital: 98% of staff who got 2nd shot have high-level COVID antibodies

A health care professional prepares a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, January 12, 2021. (Oded Balilty/AP)
A health care professional prepares a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, January 12, 2021. (Oded Balilty/AP)

A new serological study conducted at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan has shown 98% of hospital workers who received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine have developed a high level of antibodies to fight off the virus.

The study of 102 samples, taken a week after Israel began administering the second dose — when the vaccine is expected to reach peak effectiveness — showed most vaccinees had higher antibody counts than among those who have recovered from COVID-19.

The hospital says that a week after receiving the final dose, antibodies jumped to a level between 6 and 20 times higher than that observed after the first shot.

Hundreds more samples are set to be examined.

Two employees developed only low levels of antibodies, the tests showed — one of them known to have a weakened immune system.

Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit at Sheba, says that the initial results indicate the vaccinees are unlikely to be carriers or infectious — a matter that scientists have hitherto not determined — as antibody levels are high enough to suppress any virus particles.

Sheba Medical staff members receive the second round of the Covid-19 vaccine, at the Sheba Medical Center outside of Tel Aviv, on January 10, 2021 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“This means the vaccine works wonderfully,” Regev-Yochay says. The results “are in agreement with Pfizer’s trials and go even beyond the expected [results]. I expect the tests of the rest of the employees participating to be similar.”

She adds: “There is definitely cause for optimism.”

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