#Israel Approves Fourth Dose for People With Health Problems

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(Bloomberg) — Israel’s Health Ministry has approved a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine for immunocompromised people, a step back from an original plan to administer it to everyone aged 60 and over.

Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said at a news conference late Thursday that studies showed a fourth dose helped some immunocompromised people develop antibodies to the disease, whereas a third dose wasn’t always enough. It will be available to eligible candidates aged 18 and over who received a third dose at least four months earlier.

Last week Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the country would become the first to offer a fourth dose on a more widespread basis, after a forecast showed that the fast-paced spread of the omicron variant would leave the population largely unprotected from infection. Israel, a country of almost 9.5 million people, is currently adding about 4,000 new cases a day.

But the ministry later said Ash hadn’t yet made a decision.

The decision to press ahead with the fourth dose drew criticism from some medical experts, including the country’s public health chief, Sharon Alroy-Preis. She protested at a meeting of government officials and medical experts that a trial at the country’s leading hospital hadn’t yet been carried out, according to Army Radio.

That trial has since begun.

Israel’s handling of the coronavirus has been studied by other countries, because of its early administration of vaccines and boosters and comprehensive digital health data. It was the first country to offer boosters to much of its population after the delta variant sent infections soaring.

 

 

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