Late on Wednesday night, the coronavirus vaccination committee of the Health Ministry got together to vote on whether or not the third shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine should be administered to senior citizens. The elderly in question were specifically only those who are at risk of developing the more serious symptoms of the deadly disease.
After voting, it was noted that an absolute majority of the committee members, who had been present at the meeting, believed that this was the right decision to be taken for the adult population in Israel. The meeting started at 9 pm and continued on till midnight, during which the majority of the members wanted to go ahead with the third jab, despite that it has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett, went on to imply that the country was readily moving towards the administration of the third jab to the senior citizens. While visiting a facility for the elderly just last week, he informed them that the relevant authorities were working on making it happen.
On the other hand, the committee could not agree on the age group that should be allowed to get the extra shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Where some believed that it would be effective for people aged over 60, there were those who only wanted the jab to be administered to 70-year-olds and above.
The final decision has been left to Prof. Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry. He will be deciding on the age group and whether or not the third shot should be administered.
This move from the authorities in Israel comes only a day after Pfizer informed its investors, during a presentation that they conducted research on the matter. According to experts, the third dose of their vaccine has led to an increase in antibodies. Soon, the company said that it will be applying for approval of the vaccine in emergency use in the month of August.
Meanwhile, the Delta variant had been quickly making its rounds across the State of Israel. A majority of the newly diagnosed cases are those in younger people, who are primarily unvaccinated. However, there has also been a surge in infections amongst the elderly, who were vaccinated just five to six months ago.
The Health Ministry further conducted preliminary research, which indicated that the Pfizer vaccine was proving to be only 16% effective against the new strain, specifically in people who had been vaccinated several months ago. In addition, it has been concluded that for people aged 60 and above, the vaccine’s efficacy against serious illness has fallen from 97% to 81%.
Prof. Eran Segal from the Weizmann Institute of Science tweeted in the early hours of Thursday that though 81% is a substantial number, the gap in the efficacy of the vaccine is quite dramatic. He revealed that the chances of someone aged 60 and over of becoming seriously ill is now six times more.