4th Vaccine Dose Improves Defense against Serious Illness in Over-60s

On Tuesday, a new Israeli study was released, which showed that a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can significantly improve defense in older adults against severe illness. People over the age of 60 were compared in the study who had received the fourth shot against those who had only been administered three doses. After four weeks, it became apparent that the rate of severe illness was 3.5 times higher amongst people who had only gotten three doses. The data was taken during the Omicron wave between January 10th and March 2nd. It monitored 1.2 million people in Israel who are above the age of 60 and eligible for getting the fourth shot.

There was a lower number of confirmed infections after the fourth shot had been given and this effect declined after four weeks and by eight weeks, it was completely gone. Six weeks after the fourth dose was administered, people still hadn’t lost the protection it offers against severe illness. No data was provided on younger people in the recent study. The fourth shot of the COVID-19 vaccine had been approved in Israel in January for all Israelis who were 60 and above, the immunocompromised and medical workers. This made it the world’s first government to take this step.

Those who were eligible for it could receive the shot four months after they had gotten the third dose. The findings of the new study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which is peer-reviewed, on Tuesday. Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center, Hebrew University, the Technion, the Weizmann Institute of Science and researchers from the Health Ministry conducted the study. Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the director of public health in Israel, and Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, were listed as the co-authors of the study. 

Israeli researchers had also come to the same conclusion regarding the efficacy of the fourth dose of the vaccine and the same results as that of Tuesday’s research had been obtained from the data of the Health Ministry back in January. The first study in the world about the efficacy of the fourth dose of the vaccine had been launched by the Sheba Medical Center back in December. Another Israeli study conducted into the fourth dose had discovered that it did not help young people much in terms of protecting them from catching the virus, but it did protect them from symptomatic illness. 

Another Israeli research had been carried out last month, which showed that the fourth shot had helped reduce deaths during the Omicron wave in Israel’s older population. But, this had not been peer-reviewed. Alroy-Preis said on Monday that Israel was moving towards normalization, as the transmission number had begun to decline in the country once more. The number of daily cases has also gone down, as has the number of serious cases. No new restrictions have been implemented. School children as well as people coming from abroad are no longer required to quarantine. Only the requirement of indoor face masks is still applicable. 

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