Israel has begun trials for a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for healthy patients as it looks to roll out the additional booster shot to at-risk populations. The Sheba Medical Center said it is the first time in the world healthy subjects are receiving a fourth shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Around 150 health workers whose antibody levels have dropped are part of the trial at the Sheba Medical Center outside of Tel Aviv.
“I don’t feel much as a guinea pig,” Dr. Jacob Lavee, former director of Heart Transplant Unit at the Sheba Medical Center, told CNN. “I volunteered for research done here in previous shots, mainly booster shot, as I know my own immunity has dropped below threshold, and therefore, not only am I potentially exposed to Omicron, but more importantly, I might be a potential hazard to the heart transplant patients I’m taking care of.”
On Dec. 21, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed a decision by a panel of experts to recommend the additional booster for people over 60 years old, health care workers and people with suppressed immune systems. But the health ministry’s director-general has yet to sign it off.
“Wonderful news, do not waste time – go get vaccinated,” Bennett said in a statement at the time.
Those eligible for the fourth dose will be administered it provided at least four months have passed since the third dose, the government said in the statement.
“The State of Israel is continuing to stand at the forefront of the global effort to deal with the pandemic. The citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and we are continuing to pioneer with the fourth dose as well,” Bennett added.
Initial results from the study are expected by the end of the week by which time Israel’s rising Covid-19 caseload will likely be even heavier.
“I don’t think it’s right, right now at this moment but it may change in a week,” Dr. Gili-Regev Yochay, director of Infection Prevention Control Unit at the Sheba Medical Center, told CNN. “It depends what we see is happening in England, and also here — if we see there is more severe disease, maybe it will be correct. That’s why it is so important to start a research ASAP.”