Israel on Monday began administering a third dose of Pfizer vaccine to immunocompromised adults in what the Health Ministry describes as an experiment to boost results for older people and the most vulnerable.
Officials are clarifying that the goal of the new program was to raise antibody levels among immunocompromised citizens — including cancer patients and recipients of liver transplants, and others who data shows have recently exhibited weakened vaccine protection. There has been no decision made to administer a third shot to the general public.
Israel was one of the first countries to administer the vaccine, but is experiencing a surge in new cases. Over the past month, infection rates in Israel have spiked from single digits to around 450 a day.
Pfizer and BioNTech have cited Israel’s data as a test case for the rest of the world. The most recent data shows the two doses of vaccine highly effective against severe illness and hospitalizations, while showing declining effectiveness against mild infections.
Pfizer said on Thursday that it plans to ask the U.S. and Europe officials for authorization for booster shots.
In a statement released Monday, the Israeli government said that its analysis has shown the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to provide 64% protection against infections caused by the Delta variant but 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations, compared to research from May that reported it to be 97% effective.CNN