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Israel plans roll out of fourth Covid vaccine dose

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By NS Desk 05-Sep-2021

Jerusalem, Sep 5 (IANS) Israel is planning to start preparations to administer a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine, ignoring the World Health Organisation's call for a moratorium on boosters to help shift Covid vaccine supply to countries with low-access, media reports said.

Israel has been among the first to accomplish administering two-shots to a majority of its citizens as well as to roll out a third booster dose.

On Saturday, the country's national coronavirus czar called for the country to begin making preparations to eventually administer fourth doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Times of Israel reported.

"Given that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection," the website quoted Salman Zarka as saying to Kan public radio.

According to Zarka, the next booster shot may be modified to better protect against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, such as the highly infectious Delta strain.

"This is our life from now on, in waves," he said.

While Zarka did not specify when the fourth vaccine shot would eventually be administered, he expects that the doses, adapted to cope better with variants, will be available by late 2021 or early 2022, the report said.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, last month, Zarka stated that vaccines against the infectious virus should be made annual or biannual.

"It seems that if we learn the lessons from the fourth wave, we must consider the (possibility of subsequent) waves with the new variants, such as the new one from South America," he said.

"And thinking about this and the waning of the vaccines and the antibodies, it seems every few months -- it could be once a year or five or six months -- we'll need another shot," Zarka noted.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry last week announced that the "Green Pass" system -- a document that allows entry into certain gatherings and public places for those who are vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus -- will expire six months after the holder received their second or third dose, hinting that a fourth dose may be administered in six months time, the report said.

Israel has been offering booster jabs to people over the age of 60 since July, and data suggests the programme has prevented hospital admissions. The country has since expanded the inoculation drive to all aged above 12 and who have already had two doses.

As of Friday, more than 2.5m people in the country had received a third dose, the report added.

--IANS

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