Israel rolls out first test doses of second COVID-19 booster shot

As the omicron variant spreads globally, Israel has become the first country to begin testing a fourth COVID-19 vaccination dose on some of its healthcare workers to see if a fourth dose is necessary on a wider scale.

Israel was the first country to administer vaccines amid the pandemic, and its trials will be closely watched by other governments as they weigh countermeasures against the highly transmissible omicron variant.

An Israeli hospital administered doses of the fourth vaccine to a group of workers, and will monitor the results to determine whether to recommend a second booster to healthcare workers and any elderly people with compromised immune systems.

The hospital says it will likely submit results to the Health Ministry in about two weeks, according to a spokesperson for Sheba Medical Center, just outside Tel Aviv. An expert panel recommended to the Ministry last week that due to the omicron surge, Israel should become the first country to test a fourth vaccine dose.

Final approval by Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash is still forthcoming, and Israeli media reports he may opt to  limit second boosters to healthcare workers and those over 70.

The Sheba study will monitor 150 participants to see if the fourth dose of the vaccine is a necessary step in the battle against COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Israel has reported over a million cases, and over 8,000 deaths.

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