By TOI STAFF 17 January 2022
Nearly a month after Sheba Medical Center launched a landmark study to test the efficacy of a fourth COVID shot, the hospital said Monday that this fourth booster was only partially effective in protecting against the Omicron strain.
“The vaccine…is less effective against the Omicron strain,” Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, a lead researcher in the experiment said.
“We see an increase in antibodies, higher than after the third dose,” Regev-Yochay said. “However, we see many infected with Omicron who received the fourth dose. Granted, a bit less than in the control group, but still a lot of infections,” she added.
“The bottom line is that…for Omicron it’s not good enough,” she said.
Regev-Yochay added that it is still probably a good idea to give a fourth shot to those at higher risk, but intimated that perhaps the current campaign, which also offers the jab to the over-60s, should be amended to only include even older groups. She did not elaborate.
The hospital did not release more specific data. Regev-Yochay said the results of the research are only preliminary, but indicated that she was providing the initial information since there was high public interest in the matter.
Hours after releasing the results, Sheba published a statement calling for “continuing the vaccination drive for risk groups at this time, even though the vaccine doesn’t provide optimal protection against getting infected with the variant.”
Hebrew media reported that the hospital was pressured into issuing that statement after the Health Ministry didn’t like the publication of the study’s initial results.