A new study by Israeli researchers found that a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer reduced the risk of infection 11.4-fold after 12 days. The booster also cut the risk of severe disease more than 10-fold. This could be critical in not only improving a person’s protection against severe illness, but may also help keep the deadly Delta variant in check.
According to Axios, the pre-print study which has not been peer-reviewed, involved more than one million men and women over the age of 60 who had already been fully vaccinated for at least six months. Israel was the first country to offer booster shots to its population, beginning with older adults.
The study authors say that their research “demonstrates the effectiveness of a third vaccine dose both in reducing transmission and severe disease,” says Axios.
A senior Biden official said, “The main takeaway message from Israel is there’s a short-term positive effect of boosters on both infection and severe disease,” adding that the president’s coronavirus team had been briefed on the study findings.
In late July, Israel began offering those over the age of 60 booster shots as cases of COVID-19 began to soar, says CNBC. Then, during the month of August, third shots became available to anyone over the age of 30 who had been fully vaccinated with the two-dose regimen. However, individuals must wait five months after their last shot to be eligible for a booster.
Experts in Israel point out that while the number of COVID-19 cases was rising, the rate of illness remained “substantially lower.”
“We attribute that to the fact that most of our adult population is vaccinated with two doses, and more than one million people have received the third shot,” said Dr. Eyal Leshem, the director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center.
“The severe disease rates in the vaccinated are about one-tenth of those seen in the unvaccinated, which means the vaccine is still over 90% in preventing severe disease,” said Leshem, according to CBNC. “People who received the booster dose are also at much, much lower risk of becoming infected, our short-term data shows.”
Critics of pursuing a booster shot say that the spread of COVID-19 is still rampant among the unvaccinated and that we don’t have enough data to say how many cases are caused by fully vaccinated people. Many experts argue that instead of pushing for a booster shot, we should be focusing on getting the unvaccinated on board, including children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
According to Axios, the U.S. may start offering booster shots to the general public in a matter of weeks so the Israeli information does offer hope that those who receive the third shot will have an extra dose of protection.
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