4th COVID shot triples protection from severe illness among older adults, study finds

January 24, 2022, 11:06 AM UTC

A fourth vaccine dose for older adults leaves them better protected against coronavirus infection than peers who received three shots, a study released by Israel’s health ministry found. 

The preliminary analysis compares data from about 400,000 people aged 60 and over who received a fourth dose in January and some 600,000 people in the same age group who got only three doses — with the third shot administered four months or more previously. 

The researchers found that those who had the fourth dose had twice the protection from infection as the others, and at least three times the protection from severe illness.

Israel began administering a fourth dose to older adults, health workers and people with compromised immune systems in late December as the Omicron variant spread quickly through the population. Since then, almost 600,000 Israelis have received the extra dose. The great majority of people in Israel have received the Pfizer Inc. vaccine. 

The health ministry findings contrast with a trial of 154 medical personnel at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, which showed that the fourth dose increased antibodies, but was insufficient to prevent infection from the Omicron variant. 

The preliminary analysis was performed by researchers from the Ministry of Health, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Gertner Institute at Sheba Medical Center. 

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