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Israel says US booster plan backs its own aggressive push


Israeli officials credit the booster shot, already given to nearly a third of the population, as helping suppress the country’s latest wave of COVID-19 infections. They say the differing approaches are based on the same realization that boosters are the right way to go, and that the US and other countries are expected to expand their operations in the coming months.

The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of the year so that more people in poorer countries can get their first two doses, but Israeli officials say the booster shot is just as important in preventing infection. Is.

“We know for certain that the current system of vaccine nationalism is hurting all of us, and it is creating variants,” Davydovich said. But he said the problem is “much wider” than in Israel. “

Most adults had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by March, dropping infection levels and allowing the government to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions.

But in June, the highly contagious Delta variant began to spread. After studying the case, experts concluded that the vaccine was effective against the virus, but its effectiveness waned about five months after the second shot.

In late July, Israel began distributing booster shoots to at-risk civilians, including more than 60 people. Within weeks, it expanded the campaign to the general population.

According to the Ministry of Health, more than 3 million of Israel’s 9 million citizens have received the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

In a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Israeli experts said that in people who had been vaccinated five months earlier, the booster increased tenfold compared to patients who received the vaccine.

The health ministry said that study tracked nearly 1 million people age 60 and older and found that the booster was “very effective in reducing the rate of both confirmed infection and severe disease.”

A senior Israeli health official, Dr. Sharon Alroy Preiss was among experts who testified before a US Food and Drug Administration panel last week in favor of the booster shot. But the regulator decided against the booster for the general population, opting to authorize it only for people 65 years of age or older and high-risk groups.

Experts cited a lack of safety data on additional doses and also raised doubts about the value of mass boosters rather than targeting specific groups. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided similar support on Thursday.

Israel’s health ministry said the FDA’s decision legitimized the ongoing third vaccine operation in Israel, which “decided to act responsibly and quickly to treat increasing infections.” It said the figures showed that the booster dose “restored safety”.

Recent weeks have seen a “decreasing rate of new infections in the elderly,” most of whom have received booster shots, and “a steady increase in the proportion of unvaccinated individuals with new severe cases,” said Dr. Rain Balisar, Chief COVID-19 told the Associated Press of the government’s expert advisory panel on -19.

In recent weeks, as booster campaigns have been launched, the percentage of uninsured severe COVID-19 cases has climbed, and total new cases among people with at least two shots have declined.

As of Friday, about 70% of Israel’s 703 severe COVID-19 cases were uninsured, and about 20% had not received a booster. A month ago, when Israel administered a third dose vaccine to 1.5 million people, those two groups were equally represented in severe cases.

More than 60% of Israelis – the overwhelming majority of the adult population – have received at least two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Some experts noted that the US and Europe were several months behind Israel’s vaccination campaign and predicted those countries would follow through in the coming months.

“We are experiencing for the first time a phenomenon that will become apparent in many other countries in the coming months and pose a similar challenge there,” Baliser said. “Few, if any, other countries are following in our shoes right now.”

The UK is already running a booster campaign, in which a third dose will be offered to those over 50 and other vulnerable groups.

The WHO has called on rich countries to refrain from exhausting vaccine stockpiles on boosters that much of the world has yet to receive. A third shot may be necessary for people with certain health conditions, but “boosters for the general public are not suitable at this stage of the pandemic,” it said.

“The longer the vaccine inequality persists, the more the virus will spread and change, the longer the social and economic disruption continues, and the more likely it will be that vaccines will be less effective,” it said in a statement on Friday.

Balisar said Israel as a small country has little impact on global supplies and that its role as the world’s laboratory provides “a very important source of knowledge” for other countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has called on the public to receive vaccine boosters as part of his aggressive public relations campaign since taking office in June.

“Israel is the only country in the world that is offering its citizens the gift of this possibility – both legally and in terms of supplies – as a booster,” he said last week.

Balisar said other states should prepare national plans for the rollout of booster shots.

“Countries that have recently been vaccinated should be prepared for the effects of vaccine immunity to appear in mid-winter, and the challenge must be intensified,” he said.

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Follow Ilan Ben Zion on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IlanBenZion

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