Report: Israel to Delay Rollout of the Fourth Vaccine

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israelis receive their dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a health-care maintenance center in Yerushalayim. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A study examining the effectiveness of a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has reportedly yet to commence, even as the Health Ministry moves forward with authorizing the extra shot for those at risk.

Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv was scheduled to begin its trial on 100 volunteers this week after requesting approval from the Helsinki Committee, which signs off on all clinical trials in Israel, at the beginning of December.

But the panel never authorized the trial. Reached for comment, the panel told Channel 12 it could not disclose its internal deliberations on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reportedly decided that Israel will not begin offering fourth doses of the COVID vaccine starting Sunday, initially planned for those over 60 or at risk, Channel 13 reported Thursday.

The decision was made at a meeting held by the ministry, Channel 13 reported.

The report states that ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash has not approved the campaign yet. Ash is also reportedly examining data indicating that the Omicron variant of COVID causes less severe illness than the Delta strain.

According to the report, if more data accumulates, Ash might not back the recommendation to offer the second booster. Instead, he will send the matter back for further deliberation.

Ash will likely decide by the middle of next week, according to Kan News.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, for his part, welcomed the recommendation, ordering officials to prepare the campaign to distribute the vaccines.

Channel 13 also reported that the Knesset is likely to veto children returning to distance learning in areas with a less than 70% vaccination rate, a measure approved by the Coronavirus Cabinet.

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton said that this was an illogical move, according to Channel 13.