Israeli hospital to kick off fourth COVID-19 shot clinical trial

Sheba has been working to get approval for the fourth coronavirus jab trial for several weeks. 

 Children receive their dose of Covid-19 vaccine, at a Clallit vaccine center in Jerusalem on December 21, 2021. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Children receive their dose of Covid-19 vaccine, at a Clallit vaccine center in Jerusalem on December 21, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

A long-awaited trial to test the impact of receiving a fourth Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will kick off on Monday at Sheba Medical Center, the hospital said.

The trial received approval by the Health Ministry’s Helsinki Committee.

“We will examine the effect of the fourth vaccine on antibody levels and on disease prevention, and we will examine its safety,” said Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, the Sheba doctor and researcher who will lead the trial. “This study is expected to shed light on the additional benefit of giving a fourth dose.

“We will understand whether, and to whom, it is worth giving a fourth dose,” she added.

The trial will include some 150 Sheba healthcare workers who received their third shot no later than August 20, 2021 and who have a serological result below 700, meaning they no longer have enough antibodies to protect them against the virus.

 At a free drive-through coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine clinic run by the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe in Sequim (credit: REUTERS/LINDSEY WASSON) At a free drive-through coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine clinic run by the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe in Sequim (credit: REUTERS/LINDSEY WASSON)

Sheba has been working to get approval for the trial for several weeks.

In the meantime, the Pandemic Response Team recommended last week that anyone over the age of 60, immunocompromised individuals and medical workers should receive a fourth shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. However, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash has not yet approved the recommendation nor issued specific guidelines for such a campaign. The shots, therefore, have not begun to be administered. 

Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Salman Zarka told the Knesset on Sunday that "the decision on a fourth dose is being significantly considered by the director-general, as we want to be in a safer place."