Israeli authorities announced Sunday a third coronavirus jab will be offered to anyone aged 12 and up, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declaring that all citizens must receive a third jab to be fully vaccinated.
‘We have to complete third doses for all of our citizens. I call on those aged 12 and up to go out and immediately take the third shot,’ he said in a statement.
The announcement came following the success of the country’s booster jab campaign which launched one month ago among seniors.
Bennett said a third jab slowed a rise in severe illness caused by the Delta variant among the elderly, prompting the decision to make a third jab available for the wider population.
‘The third dose of the vaccine works,’ he said, declaring that ‘the increase in severe morbidity has begun to slow’ following the booster campaign.
But the decision has drawn criticism from the the World Health Organization (WHO), which insists poorer countries should gain wider access to vaccines before wealthy ones offer booster shots.
Israel’s daily infection tallies have regularly exceeded 8,000 in recent weeks, in a country with just 9.3 million people. 7,000 new cases were registered on Sunday, as Israel passed the one million cases threshold since the pandemic began
‘The third dose of the vaccine works,’ said PM Bennett in a statement, announcing that it was now ‘available from age 12 and up’
Bennett said that with two million Israelis having received a third shot, the results are clear as ‘the increase in severe morbidity has begun to slow’
Bennett has pressed ahead with the booster scheme as Israel’s daily infection tallies have regularly exceeded 8,000 in recent weeks, in a country with just 9.3 million people.
7,000 new cases were registered on Sunday, as Israel passed the one million cases threshold since the pandemic began.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said there was no doubt that a booster shot was ‘effective in preventing infection, and it significantly reduces the risk of serious and fatal illnesses’.
So far 2 million people out of the population of 9.3 million have received three doses, with Israel’s coronavirus death toll standing at 6,950.
‘The third dose brings us to the level of protection achieved by the second dose, when it was fresh,’ said Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at Israel’s Health Ministry.
‘That means, people are 10 times more protected after the third vaccine dose,’ she told a news conference, where the expanded booster drive was announced.
The WHO meanwhile have condemned the rollout of a third vaccination, and have called on countries offering third jabs to help ensure that poorer countries are able to receive at least their first dose of vaccinations first.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this month: ‘The WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated.’
This sentiment has been echoed by Professor Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London.
‘Are our precious vaccine doses better used for giving a third dose to people who’ve already had two, or getting a first and second dose to people in the world who’ve had none, who are in countries where the next variant is going to come from?’
Israel was one of the first countries to launch a vaccination drive in mid-December via an agreement with Pfizer to obtain millions of paid vaccine doses in exchange for sharing data on their effectiveness
The announcement of Israel’s booster jab rollout comes just two days after the Israeli Prime Minister met with US President Joe Biden to discuss the effectiveness of the third jab.
Biden said Saturday that US health officials are considering following Israel’s lead on booster shots and making third vaccines available to Americans as early as September 20.
In conversation with Bennett, the President said: ‘We’re considering the advice you’ve given that we should start earlier.’
An Israeli study, which analysed 2.5 million Israelis from June 1 to August 14 and was published on August 19, found that those who were vaccinated in January or February were six to 13 times more likely to get infected than unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 in June, July, and August.
Israel was one of the first countries to launch a vaccination drive in mid-December via an agreement with Pfizer to obtain millions of paid vaccine doses in exchange for sharing data on their effectiveness.
President Joe Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday to discuss the effectiveness of a third booster jab in reducing instances of severe illnesses from the Delta variant
In conversation with Bennett, the President said: ‘We’re considering the advice you’ve given that we should start earlier’
On Wednesday, Pfizer announced that in an unreleased study, its booster shot provides a threefold increase of neutralizing antibodies.
The side effects are the same as those experienced from the second dose, which includes headaches, tiredness, mild pain at the injection site, and a fever.
The company is racing to get FDA approval for its third shot to ensure it can begin distribution in the US as soon as possible, according to Reuters.
Source: Daily Mail UK