Covid vaccine programs could end with third dose for most people, Israeli doctor predicts

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  • A leading Israeli doctor has said that three vaccine doses are likely to provide substantial long-term protection against severe COVID-19.
  • Professor Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease specialist at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, also said vaccines may need to be tailored to new forms every few years.
  • Israel began a fourth vaccine dose late last year for older adults, some healthcare workers and people with weakened immune systems.

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A leading Israeli doctor has said that three vaccine doses are likely to provide substantial long-term protection against severe COVID-19.

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Speaking to CNBC in a phone call, Professor Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease specialist at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, predicted that in the long run, a two- or three-dose vaccination course would probably provide good protection against serious disease for most people. Will do ,

He said, “We may need to update those boosters every several years, possibly every year, to accommodate them in the current version, but we may not need any boosters at all if future variants are shorter. proves to be viral as we see with Omicron,” he said. “So it’s possible that people who have had two or three doses of current vaccines, and then have been exposed to Omicron during this wave or are exposed to other less virulent forms during future waves, may be exposed to some No other boosters will be needed.”

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Israel began a fourth vaccine dose late last year for older adults, some healthcare workers and people with weakened immune systems.

Leshem acknowledged that the scientific basis for Israel’s fourth-dose rollout was not as strong as it was for approval of booster shots, but added that experts decided to take measures when antibodies from the boosters subsided over time. went as they were seen. To do this after the initial two doses.

“We actually have very little scientific data to suggest that a fourth dose will provide a substantial degree of protection against serious illness and hospitalization,” he told CNBC. “So this was a recommendation based on expert opinion, not a recommendation based on strong data as we would ideally like to do in clinical medicine. We use expert opinion when we have evidence.” They don’t happen, and we do that all the time. Clinical medicine.”

Health officials in other countries are currently divided as to whether a fourth dose of COVID vaccines will be necessary.

Last week, the UK’s Immunization Authority said there was “no urgent need” to introduce a second booster, although the issue remained under review. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who are severely immunized should be given an additional dose in their primary series of vaccines, as well as a booster shot afterward.

CNBC Health & Science

Read CNBC’s latest global coverage of the COVID pandemic:

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Moderna’s CEO warns people may need a fourth COVID shot as the booster’s efficacy is likely to decline over time

In December, the CEO of Pfizer told CNBC that a fourth dose may be needed sooner than expected due to the highly permeable Omicron variant.

However, the WHO warns that rolling out too many booster doses to rich countries could actually prolong the pandemic by denying access to vaccines to poorer countries.

vaccination campaign

Israel has launched an aggressive vaccination program to contain the pandemic and has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world.

As of Sunday, about 71% of Israel’s population had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, with 64% being immunized with two doses. About half the population has been given a booster shot.

People who received their second shot more than six months ago are no longer considered fully vaccinated in Israel, where booster shots have been available to everyone over the age of 12 since the summer.

In Israel, individuals must show their vaccination status – or that they have recently recovered from Covid-19 – to enter certain places, including gyms, restaurants and museums.

The country on Sunday recorded 30,970 new cases of the virus – the most number of positive tests in a day since mass testing began.

In the week ending January 9, 136,569 people in Israel tested positive for Covid-19, marking a 331% increase from the week before.

According to official figures, the virus’s R count – the rate at which it reproduces – has crossed two, meaning the average infected person will spread COVID-19 to two others. Any R number above one means that an epidemic is progressing rapidly.

Hospitalizations in Israel are also rising, but they are nowhere near their epidemic peak. According to Our World in data, 733 were hospitalized from January to January 8, the highest weekly number since the emergence of the Omicron version. Israel’s hospitalization rate peaked in January 2021, when 1,985 people were hospitalized in a week.

However, deaths through the Omicron wave in Israel have remained steady.

A Kovid-19 patient died in the country on Sunday. The man was vaccinated. In the last one month, on an average, two people have died of Kovid-19 every day. At the end of January last year, Israel recorded more than 60 deaths a day.

Leshem told CNBC that rates of serious illness and hospitalization could still rise, as there is usually a lag between rising cases and their consequences.

“However, we don’t think we will see a sharp increase as we would expect with the previous variants,” he added. Omicron appears to be “naturally mild in most people, and this may have to do with viral biology—its affinity for the upper airway is in contrast to its affinity for the lower airway, which causes pneumonia.”

He said the high uptake of booster shots in Israel, as well as the country’s young population, was likely to suppress any significant increase in serious illness.

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