Coronavirus Omicron is believed to be the most infectious yet because it binds better to human receptors than Delta. Photograph:( AFP )
The initial results showed that 'the vaccines are safe and have shown to produce substantial antibodies, but are only partially effective in defending against the Omicron variant'
Amid a rise in the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases globally after the emergence of the Omicron variant, experts and medical scientists are working to investigate the immune escape potential.
As governments across the world are pushing ahead with booster shots to protect amid the emergence of new variants, latest Israeli study regarding Pfizer and Moderna vaccines impact on Omicron gives valuable inputs.
The authors of an Israeli trial said on Monday that the fourth doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against Covid are only "partially" effective for the Omicron variant of the virus.
A trial was conducted by a team from Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv in December on fourth doses of coronavirus vaccines, inoculating 154 hospital personnel with Pfizer jabs and 120 other volunteers with Moderna doses.
As per a statement released by the hospital, the initial results showed that "the vaccines are safe and have shown to produce substantial antibodies, but are only partially effective in defending against the Omicron variant."
Professor Gili Regev-Yochay, who leads the study, said that while there was an increase in antibodies after administering the fourth dose, it nonetheless "only offers a partial defenser against the virus" for those infected with the Omicron variant.
"The vaccine, which was very effective against the previous strains, is less effective against the Omicron strain," Regev-Yochay said as quoted by The Times Of Israel.
"We see an increase in antibodies, higher than after the third dose. However, we see many infected with Omicron who received the fourth dose. Granted, a bit less than in the control group, but still a lot of infections," she added.
"The bottom line is that the vaccine is excellent against the Alpha and Delta [variants], for Omicron it’s not good enough," she said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to delay booster programs as people around the world are yet to get their initial vaccine jabs.
COVID-19 situation in Israel
In Israel, official figures showed that a total of more than 1.7 million infections have been recorded since the start of the pandemic, including more than 8,300 deaths.
Israel was among the first countries to launch mass immunisation campaigns for its population. It then began offering booster shots last summer. More than 537,000 Israelis have received a fourth dose of vaccine, according to the health ministry's latest figures.