An Israeli professor of virology Wednesday warned his government against proceeding with the rollout of a fourth vaccine against the Omicron variant in the absence of sufficient data to validate an action some see as drastic and premature.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Professor Tsvika Granot said it was important to wait for further assessment of the effect on individuals of the variant, which so far appears mild relative to its predecessors.
Two encouraging reports being circulated in the UK Thursday, as well as doctors’ input from South Africa where Omicron was first identified, indicate that there is less likelihood of Omicron leading to overwhelming hospitalisations.
Granot’s caution followed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s upbeat announcement Tuesday that Israel will begin immediately with a program of injecting select citizens with a fourth dose of anti-Covid vaccine.
Most countries, prominent among them the UK, are pushing their nationals to get the “booster” third shot. The governing bodies in various parts of the British Isles, however – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – are at odds with each other, acrimoniously in some instances, about which restrictions to impose on their populations at this stage.
Other nations are still struggling to get the second vaccine into the arms of the majority of their people, while many under-developed countries have not even begun an effective first dose rollout due to vaccine shortages.
Bennett said on Tuesday that the decision to begin with a fourth vaccination drive was “wonderful news that will assist us in getting through the Omicron wave that is engulfing the world.”
Much of the international community has emulated Israel’s approach to dealing with Covid-19, regarding the Jewish state as a model.
Bennett boastfully declared that “the citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and we are continuing to pioneer with the fourth dose as well.”
But Granot argued that the make-up of the vaccine needed to be updated to oppose Omicron.
“The coronavirus has changed and the vaccine is not as efficient as it could be if we had an updated vaccine,” he said