Israel on Thursday became the first nation to approve COVID booster shots for parts of its population, reports Haaretz. Starting Sunday, anyone in the country older than 60 who received their initial vaccination at least five months ago can get another dose from Pfizer, the nation's main vaccine supplier, per the Washington Post. The decision comes as the delta variant has led to a sharp spike in cases in Israel, from single digits per day to about 450, reports Reuters. So far, health authorities in the US and at agencies such as the World Health Organization haven't recommended booster shots, though research is ongoing.
This week, Pfizer released data showing that the efficacy of its vaccine fell from 96% to 84% over six months, reports STAT News. The latter figure is still strong and is "very reassuring" to vaccine expert Paul Offit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. However, the risk is that if the vaccine continues to lose efficacy at the same rate as found in the new data—around 6% every two months—it would drop below the important 50% threshold in 18 months. The paper suggested that booster shots would be needed. (Read more Israel stories.)