Israel's fourth vaccine dose and Omicron
There are two research results reported below and both were reported on very positively. The reports below portray vaccination as protective in an Omicron-infected population.
Being a retired academic, however I looked at the results more closely and was not convinced. The final conclusion from the study report of the healthcare workers agreed well with my conclusions. It reads:
"a fourth vaccination of healthy young health care workers may have only marginal benefits"
The second study -- of the elderly -- compared only the results of third and fourth vaccinations with one-another. There was no control group so no conclusions about absolute efficacy were possible.
My takeaway is that existing vaccinations are probably totally useless against Omicron
The Middle Eastern nation became the first place in the world to offer its adult citizens a second booster in January, just as the Omicron wave charged across the globe.
Any Israeli over the age of 18 was able to get the jab, as long as five months had passed since they received their previous booster or had recovered from the illness.
More than 830,000 Israelis — mostly the elderly, health workers and immunocompromised residents — have so far taken up that offer.
The World Health Organization is yet to give an official recommendation on the efficacy of a fourth COVID-19 dose.
Experts are divided on the efficacy of a second booster for younger people.
Earlier this year, researchers studied the effects of a fourth shot on the immune responses of young Israeli health workers.
The results suggest the effectiveness of the fourth dose is no different from the effectiveness of a third dose.
While the jury may be out on the benefits for younger people, Israeli researchers say one age group clearly receives significant additional protection.
Results of a newly published study by Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed the fourth COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of death by 72 per cent among Israel's elderly.
"This is a huge step forward to control the spread of COVID in Australia and other countries, that plan to introduce the fourth dose," lead researcher Khitam Muhsen said.
The study of 40,000 nursing home residents found those vaccinated with a fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine had a 34 per cent reduced risk of contracting the Omicron variant.
They also had a 64 to 67 per cent reduced risk of requiring hospitalisation.
"When there was a variant that had so many mutations, there was a lot of questions about whether the vaccine would be protective, or effective," Dr Muhsen said.