Protection against COVID infection improves, but declines rapidly, after 4th dose of vaccine: study

(The Hill) – A new study in Israel found that the fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine improves protection against infection and severe COVID-19; however, protection against confirmed infection appears to be short-lived.

The study, published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that efficacy against COVID-19 infection during the fourth week after receiving the fourth dose was lower than protection after the third dose of the vaccine.

He added that protection against severe disease did not decline in the six weeks following the fourth dose and found that the rate of confirmed infection in the fourth week after was lower than that of the group with three doses of vaccine.

However, the study added that protection against infection declined over the following weeks.

Israel was the first country to begin administering a fourth dose. The study, conducted by Sheba Medical Center, included more than 1.25 million people vaccinated in Israel from January 10 to March 2.

It included people aged 60 or older who had received three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least four months previously. It came as the omicron variant drove a winter surge of coronavirus cases around the world.

The study also noted that the omicron variant is genetically different from the ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2 for which the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was designed.

He added that the results suggest that protection against infection confirmed by the omicron variant is highest during the fourth week after vaccination, after which the effectiveness of the booster decreases by the eighth week.

About Sandra A. Powell

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