Fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose only a matter of time, Health Ministry DG says

Prof. Ash speculates Israelis may have to take additional booster shots from time to time as vaccine protection wanes, says country may have to reintroduce health curbs; PM downplays rising cases, rules out new restrictions over winter

Adir Yanko , Attila Somfalvi|
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said on Sunday that Israelis will have to get a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine sometime in the future as antibody levels lapse.
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  • "It's probably a matter of time, and the question is how long. If [vaccine portection] lasts for a year, we'd be delighted... In any case, it probably will not last many years, even the booster shot, and we will have to keep getting vaccinated from time to time. I hope it will be a year or more," Prof. Ash told a press briefing.
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    תור למתחם חיסון וחיסון לקורונה
    תור למתחם חיסון וחיסון לקורונה
    Israelis queueing at the entrance to a COVID-19 vaccination hub in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Reuters, Moti Kimchi)
    The ministry reported Saturday evening that Israel's coronavirus R-value — which indicates how many people on average does a single virus carrier infect — has topped 1 for the first time in months.
    The virus' reproduction number, or R-value, has reached 1.02, indicating that the pandemic may be making a comeback in Israel after weeks of steady decline.
    Prof. Ash further said that the country may have to reintroduce some of the health measures that were recently lifted against the backdrop of the alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases. However, he noted that there was no reason to panic.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that his government did intend to reimpose any health restrictions over the winter despite signs of rising coronavirus morbidity.
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    פרופ' חזי לוי ופרופ' נחמן אש בטקס חילופי מנכ"ל משרד הבריאות
    פרופ' חזי לוי ופרופ' נחמן אש בטקס חילופי מנכ"ל משרד הבריאות
    Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    According to Bennett, most new cases are reported among children who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated against the pathogen, which indicates "Israel may be facing a 'mini-wave' centered around on children."
    He also called on almost a million eligible Israelis who have yet to receive their booster shot to do so.
    The premier also said that Israel was working to procure COVID-19 treatments, such as Merck's and Pfizer's anti-viral pills, but noted he preferred preventing the disease rather than treating it.
    Israel became the first country in the world to offer its citizens a third COVID-19 dose, or booster shot, back in August after it experienced a record coronavirus outbreak despite boasting one the world's highest vaccination rates at the time.
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