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Omicron: Israel to administer fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to over 60s

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made the announcement as Israel fights a surge in cases
Bennett said Israel’s top medical official approved the plans to offer the fourth dose to over 60s (AFP)

Israel said it will offer a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine to over 60s amid a surge of cases from the omicron variant of Covid-19.

Speaking on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel would go ahead with giving over 60s the fourth dose, after Israel’s top medical official signed off on the proposal.

“We now have a new layer of defence," Bennett said in a televised news conference, adding that elderly patients would be given the Pfizer vaccine.

“Israel will once again be pioneering the global vaccination effort.”

Last week, Israel approved a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Pfizer, for the elderly, a second booster for people who are immuno-compromised and the elderly living in care homes.

Earlier on Sunday, Israel’s Health Ministry's Director-General Nachman Ash said Israel could reach herd immunity as Omicron infections mounted and Merck & Co's (MRK.N) molnupiravir anti-viral pill was approved for use in COVID-19 patients over 18.

But Ash was contradicted by the head of Israel’s health ministry’s coronavirus task force, Salman Zarka, who said herd immunity was far from guaranteed, given how people have been reinfected with Covid-19 after being infected over the last two years.

The newly discovered Omicron Variant of Covid-19 has led to imploding infection rates of the coronavirus across the world.

Bennett estimates that cases would reach at least daily rates of 50,000. Over the last ten days, daily cases have quadrupled, but severe cases have claimed at a far lower rate. 

Deaths, however, have not hit a similar trajectory, raising hopes that the Omicron variant isn’t as lethal as previous variations of the coronavirus.