Three Pfizer vaccine injections protect against Omicron, Israeli study finds


Israeli researchers have found that a three-shot course of the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine offers significant protection against the new Omicron variant.

The study, conducted by Sheba Medical Center and the Department of Health’s Central Virology Laboratory, compared the blood of 20 people who had received two doses of the vaccine 5 to 6 months earlier with the same number of individuals who had received a reminder a month ago.

Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the infectious disease unit in Sheba, said: “People who received the second dose 5 or 6 months ago have no neutralizing ability against Omicron. Although they have some against the Delta strain.

“The good news is that with the booster it increases about a hundred times. There is significant protection from the booster dose. ‘

But Regev-Yochay also admitted that the booster is even less effective in protecting against Omicron compared to the Delta variant.

“That’s less than the neutralization capacity against the Delta, about four times less,” she said.

Israeli researchers found three-shot course of Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine provides significant protection against new Omicron variant

Gili Regev-Yochay, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Israel

Gili Regev-Yochay, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Israel

The results were similar to those presented by BioNTech and Pfizer earlier in the week, which were an early signal that booster injections could be essential in protecting against infection with the newly identified variant.

The Israeli team said they worked with the real virus while the companies used what is called a pseudovirus, which was bio-engineered to have the characteristic mutations of Omicron.

The Israeli research follows a study from South Africa which found that the Omicron variant may partially escape the protection of two doses.

“People who received the booster are better protected than those who only received the second, and of course, more than the unvaccinated,” said Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health in the department. the health of Israel,

“Two doses are not effective enough. “

Alroy-Preis also announced that the Ministry of Health in Israel is debating whether to encourage people to take their booster injection as early as three months after receiving their second injection to ensure maximum protection.

This comes less than a month after BioNTech announced that it had started work on a Covid vaccine specifically targeting the Omicron variant.

Despite the latest news that a third injection of Pfizer / BioNTech could offer considerable protection against Omicron, the company said in late November that it could have a bespoke vaccine against Omicron ready for distribution within 100 days.

An Israeli health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a student at al-Manahel school in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli annexed Golan Heights, December 12, 2021. The Israeli ministry Health plans to encourage people to take a third booster as early as three months after their second jab

An Israeli health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a student at al-Manahel school in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli annexed Golan Heights, December 12, 2021. The Israeli ministry Health plans to encourage people to take a third booster as early as three months after their second jab

“The early stages of developing a potential new vaccine overlap with the research needed to assess whether a new injection will be needed,” the company said.

Moderna also announced last month that it is developing a booster that it says will provide targeted protection against the Omicron variant.

Despite news that boosters may offer significant protection against Omicron, Israel today announced that its citizens will be banned from traveling to Britain, Denmark and Belgium from Wednesday due to the spread of the news. variant.

Alroy-Preis said all three countries were placed on the “red” list due to the “significant” spread of the Omicron variant.

Since the discovery of the Omicron variant, around fifty countries have been placed on Israel’s red list, mainly in Africa.

Israel bans its citizens from traveling to Britain, Denmark and Belgium from Wednesday due to the spread of the Omicron variant (file image).  Pictured: Travelers leave the coronavirus testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel

Israel bans its citizens from traveling to Britain, Denmark and Belgium from Wednesday due to the spread of the Omicron variant (file image). Pictured: Travelers leave the coronavirus testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel

Health officials said there have been 55 confirmed cases of Omicron in Israel, prompting the government and the health ministry to enforce stricter mask mandates.

It has also been decided that in-country Green Pass restrictions will be introduced in shopping malls, meaning unvaccinated Israelis cannot enter.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett faces calls for tighter restrictions on Israel in the coming days.

It comes after the spread of the virus hit a three-month peak yesterday and the R-number rose to 1.1.

Previously, Israel imposed a two-week ban on foreigners from entering the country in late November in an attempt to stem coronavirus infections.

And Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, are required to self-quarantine.

Health officials said there have been 55 confirmed cases of Omicron in Israel.  Pictured: A woman at a mass testing site in East Jerusalem in late November

Health officials said there have been 55 confirmed cases of Omicron in Israel. Pictured: A woman at a mass testing site in East Jerusalem in late November

The country has also brought back anti-terrorism phone tracking technology in an attempt to crack down on the Omicron variant.

Counterterrorism agency Shin Bet’s phone tracking technology is being used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to limit its transmission to others, Bennett said in November.

In use intermittently since March 2020, the monitoring technology compared the locations of virus carriers with other nearby cell phones to determine who they had come into contact with.

Israel’s Supreme Court limited the scope of its use this year after civil rights groups launched challenges over privacy concerns.


Comments are closed.