As Omicron continues to spread across the globe, a hospital in Israel on Monday began a study to test the effectiveness of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Officials at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv said the study is the first of its kind and involves giving an additional shot to 150 medical personnel who had already received a booster at least four months ago, the New York Times reports.
With studies showing that COVID-19 vaccines protect people from serious illness, a panel of medical experts advising the Israeli government recommended last week that health officials offer a fourth shot for those over the age of 60, with weaker immune systems and medical workers,
The proposal is awaiting formal approval from the Ministry of Health, but concerns have been raised about whether the recommendation is premature given the lack of data.
Most of the advisory panel argued the benefits of a fourth dose outweigh the risks, but some argued not enough is known about the effects of a fourth dose. Indeed, some scientists have raised concerns that too many shots could cause some kind of immune system fatigue and compromise the body’s ability to fight the virus.
A senior Israeli Health Ministry official said last week that they would gather more data from other countries, especially about the risk of severe illness among older people, before deciding on whether to offer a fourth dose.