Israel will begin to provide the third dose of BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to adults with severe pre-existing diseases this week, becoming the first country in the world to officially provide the so-called “booster” vaccine.

The Ministry of Health confirmed the move on Monday, when US and European health authorities were debating the need for intensified injections. At the end of last month, UK gives temporary support Booster activity starting in September. Pfizer said last week that it would ask regulators to approve them.

Israel is widely praised for providing one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world because it receives regular supplies of vaccines from Pfizer in exchange for providing data.

But the infection rate is Rise sharply in Israel Due to the highly spreadable Delta variant. After several consecutive weeks of infections in single digits every day, the number of cases has soared to more than 400 a day. However, of the 4,000 active cases across the country, only 47 were considered to involve serious illness, and health experts insisted that two doses of Pfizer vaccine continue to provide strong protection against hospitalization and death.

In a statement late last week, Pfizer and BioNTech stated that the third dose “is likely to maintain the highest level of protection against all currently known variants, including Delta.” The two companies are still developing an updated version of the vaccine for the “complete spike protein against the Delta variant”.

According to Israeli Minister of Health, Nitzan Horowitz, boosters will be provided to adults who have severe immunodeficiency, have recently received an organ transplant, or are generally considered at risk.

The Ministry of Health recommends that after obtaining the approval of the family doctor, the third injection should be given within 4 to 8 weeks after the second Pfizer injection. For certain high-risk groups, the Ministry of Health also recommends that they undergo antibody tests after the second and third vaccination, but this is not a prerequisite.

Dr. Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease expert at Sheba Medical Center, said: “It is not uncommon to use’off-label’ drugs in medicine. This is not exactly the same as the protocol used in clinical research.” “It is safe, effective and based on clinical judgment.”

In Israel’s vaccination campaign that began in December, more than 5 million of the country’s 9 million citizens have been fully vaccinated with two doses, three weeks apart. The health authorities have also recently promoted vaccination of young people. In the past two weeks, about 200,000 young people over 12 years old have received their first injections.

Rear Fully reopened After Israel’s economy in the spring and abandoning all Covid restrictions last month, it has recently begun to restore new restrictions, including mandatory requirements to wear masks at indoor gatherings and on public transportation. Other measures are expected to be taken, such as stricter isolation of travelers and more testing of children. Israel may even bring back the “green pass” to provide greater freedom for those who are vaccinated.

“[Booster shots for at-risk populations are] It may be more important than just vaccinating a few 20-year-olds,” Leshem added. “With this step, you seem to be able to save more lives. ”

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