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Fourth Covid-19 booster ineffective at stopping Omicron, research shows


62-year-old Moshe Geva Rosso receives a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Israel (Reuters)

Looks like a fourth Covid-19 booster vaccine might not be useful after all, according to preliminary research from Israel.

The results show that a fourth jab is ineffective against stopping Omicron infections.

‘Despite a significant increase in antibodies after the fourth vaccine, this protection is only partially effective against the Omicron strain, which is relatively resistant to the vaccine,’ explained lead researcher Gili Regev-Yochay.

Around 154 health workers at Sheba Medical Center in Israel received their fourth Pfizer shot two weeks ago.

A week ago, 120 health workers received a shot of Moderna following three doses of Pfizer one week ago.

Last week, Regev-Yochay told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that there had been a five-fold increase in antibodies in people who took the fourth dose, but she later told a radio station that ‘the amount of antibodies returns to the level it was after the third vaccine, not more. It’s nice, but it’s not what we expect from a booster,’

In addition, around the same percentage of hospital workers who received the fourth dose caught the virus as those who didn’t get the fourth booster. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned repeatedly against boosters. (Credits: REUTERS)

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) cautioned last week that there was no evidence to back a fourth booster, warning that repeat boosters every four months might actually weaken people’s immune systems.

Boosters ‘can be done once, or maybe twice, but it’s not something that we can think should be repeated constantly,’ said Marco Cavaleri, the EMA head of biological health threats and vaccine strategy, at a press briefing last week.

Instead, the agency recommended that boosters should be tied to the cold season with longer intervals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned repeatedly against boosters while a high percentage of people in low and middle-income countries – estimated to be over 40% of the world’s population – are unvaccinated, fearing boosters will lower the number of vaccine doses available to these countries.

Latest research from South Africa, New York City and California show that the vast majority of people hospitalised by the Omicron variant are unvaccinated – but that they still experienced less severe disease than those infected with Delta.

Hospital statistics of over 128,000 patients with Delta and almost 35,000 patients with Omicron, showed those with Omicron fared significantly better than those with Delta. 

A similar trend was reported by the New York City (NYC) Health Department, which reported that about 2% of Omicron cases were hospitalised in comparison to around 5% of Omicron cases.


MORE : No need for fourth jab yet as booster ‘still providing good protection’


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