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Israeli prime minister receives vaccine booster

As infections rise once again, Israel is pioneering vaccine booster shots, though the World Health Organization has warned that offering a third dose could contribute to vaccine inequity.
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett received a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. He said that receiving a third dose of the vaccine is the best way to defeat the coronavirus.

“Israel is the pioneer of the third dose of the vaccines against the COVID virus,” said Bennett in a statement. “We’re seeing profound effectiveness, efficacy of the vaccines. It's working, it's safe and it's the way to defeat this virus."

Most vaccines against COVID-19 require two doses to be fully effective. Some countries, including the United States, are now pushing plans to offer a third, booster dose to vaccinated individuals months after their second dose to make immunity against the virus last longer.

The World Health Organization, however, is not yet recommending the booster shot, saying it is unclear whether it is necessary.

"To date, the evidence remains limited and inconclusive on any widespread need for booster doses following a primary vaccination series,” read a WHO statement this month.

The international health authority added that offering a third shot will reduce supplies for countries where many people have not been vaccinated at all.

“In the context of ongoing global vaccine supply constraints, administration of booster doses will exacerbate inequities by driving up demand and consuming scarce supply while priority populations in some countries, or subnational settings, have not yet received a primary vaccination series,” stated the WHO.

Israel approved the booster shot for people 50 years old and above this month following an uptick in cases in spite of Israel’s successful vaccination campaign. Around 68% of Israelis have been at least partially vaccinated against the virus, with roughly 63% being fully vaccinated, according to the Oxford-based Our World in Data.

Still, Israel is now averaging more than 7,800 new COVID-19 cases a day among its population of more than nine million. While the Israeli government brought back some restrictions in July, cases have gone up dramatically in August. The increase may be due to more transmissible mutations of the virus, such as the Delta variant.

Bennett said Israel would share data on the effectiveness of the booster with other countries.

“We from Israel are going to share all the data, all the information, all the insights in this pioneering,” he said.

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