Israel, Austria, and Croatia are requiring citizens to top up their shots due to failing vaccine protection. The move is not unthinkable in the U.S., where the Biden administration has announced plans for upcoming booster shots.
TEL AVIV : As data shows vaccines against COVID-19 are failing to offer lasting immune protection, countries including Israel and Austria are cancelling “out-of-date” vaccine passports and demanding that citizens and visitors get booster shots to top up their vaccine status.
Israeli data shows Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine efficacy has dropped from a relative risk reduction of 95% during its early trials to just 39% by the end of July, so now the Israeli government is pressuring citizens to take a third “booster” dose, saying its vaccine passports will expire after six months for those who’ve only had two experimental shots.
Israel’s “Green Pass” demonstrating receipt of two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine – which allows citizens to participate in ordinary activities including dining out, going to the gym, attending conference and entertainment venues – will now be linked to the timing of their last dose of vaccine or booster shot.
“We are updating what it means to be vaccinated,” Israel’s coronavirus czar, Salman Zarka, told reporters Sunday at a press conference.
“This is simply because, in terms of its effectiveness, the vaccine is valid only for a period of five or six months. After about half a year, you have to get a third dose. Otherwise, the vaccine loses its power,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said just days earlier, on August 24, when he warned that his government was considering canceling citizens’ Green Passes if they had not received a third dose of vaccine.
“The Green Pass testifies that a person is safe in a certain way. So the moment we know that the vaccine loses its effectiveness after a certain period, there’s no justification for giving a Green Pass to someone who hasn’t gotten another dose,” Horowitz said.
Zarka attempted to put a more positive spin on the requirement of extra experimental injections for Israeli citizens who had been assured the vaccine was “95% effective” just months earlier, presenting the failure of the first two doses in terms of the positive benefits of a third shot and highlighting research showing that an extra dose boosts protection by 10 times 12 days following the injection. Israel on August 4 introduced the third “booster shot” of Pfizer’s vaccine, which has been administered to more than 2.1 million of the country’s 9.3 million residents as of August 30.
Austria and Croatia were the first countries to announce in August that they would be attaching shelf lives to previous inoculations. They are accepting COVID vaccine passports from travelers who received their second dose no more than 270 days before arriving at their borders.
The move is not unthinkable for America as well, since Joe Biden said last week that he and White House COVID advisor Anthony Fauci were discussing the possibility of COVID vaccine booster shots every five months.
“The question raised is, should it be shorter than eight months? Should it be as little as five months? That’s being discussed. I spoke with Dr. Fauci this morning about that,” Biden said last Friday during an Oval Office visit with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after congratulating him on his country’s aggressive vaccination campaign which was followed by a recent 20-fold surge in COVID cases there.
Israel was the first country to mass vaccinate its population under an agreement with Pfizer to exchange vaccine supply for public health data in an experiment on the people “to evaluate whether herd immunity protection is observed during the Product vaccination program rollout.”
Fourteen Israelis who received a third “booster” dose of Pfizer’s shot against the pandemic coronavirus tested positive for COVID-19 infection within one week of the third shot, Israeli news reported earlier this month. No updates on further breakthrough cases among those who are thrice-vaccinated have been issued, but by the Israeli Health Ministry’s new definition of vaccinated, those who have received two doses of vaccine will presumably now count as only “partially vaccinated.”
Eighty percent of the Israeli population older than 40 is vaccinated and more than 57 percent of the country’s 9.3 million citizens have received two doses of Pfizer’s COVID shots.
Vaccine maker Pfizer updated its profit forecast for 2021 to $33.5 billion from $26 billion, making its COVID vaccine the most profitable drug ever made.
Canada’s Liberal government under Justin Trudeau began ordering surplus vaccine booster doses in April and now has orders for as many as 293 million doses for Canada’s 37 million citizens for use through 2024.
The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Lithuania, and Malta have all announced plans to offer booster jabs, beginning with “vulnerable” populations this fall.
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