The panel’s position will be presented to Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz at a meeting Thursday morning, after which the prime minister is expected to announce his support for Israelis over 60 to receive a third dose of the vaccine.
The panel’s vote was not unanimous, according to Hebrew media, but a majority supported booster injections for older Israelis, amid the rise in the number of critically ill patients in recent weeks.
The number of new critically ill patients rose from 20 on Monday to 33 on Tuesday to 41 on Wednesday.
Health officials estimate there will be a total of 1,000 critically ill patients by the end of August.
During Wednesday night’s discussion, the panel received a figure showing that the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing serious illness in people over 60 who were vaccinated in January increased from 97% in April to 81% in July.
While most experts supported giving a third dose to Israelis over 60, some preferred raising the threshold to 65. Haaretz cited anonymous experts who expressed concern over the lack of data on the third dose while acknowledging that postponing a decision on the matter could have dire consequences.
A man receives a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on July 12, 2021. (Jack Guez / AFP)
The panel also received figures from the UK where the decline in vaccine effectiveness was not as marked, possibly because recipients had to wait three months between the first and second dose, unlike the Israelis who waited about three weeks.
Once Bennett makes his decision, the matter will revert to Department of Health Director Nachman Ash, whose approval is required for the more widespread deployment of the third dose.
Bennett previously indicated on Tuesday that Israel was moving towards distributing a reminder.
“We are on top, believe me,” Bennett said during a visit to a retirement home in Jerusalem. “For at least a month [we’ve been working on] things that need to happen. Were very close. The less we talk about it, the more likely it is to happen. I’m on it. “
Israel began giving a third booster shot two weeks ago to those with severely compromised immune systems, setting a global precedent.
Some analysts have warned that vaccine efficacy figures are subject to major inaccuracies due to a range of factors, including questions about the existence of accurate data on infection levels among the unvaccinated. which is vital for such statistics.
Nonetheless, Bennett reiterated his call on Tuesday for anyone who is eligible who is still not vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
Health ministry figures showed 2,269 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record not seen since mid-March. There were 149 severe cases in Israel on Wednesday, more than double the figure from a week ago.
On Sunday, Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s foremost infectious disease expert, said the issue of booster shots was being discussed.
Fauci said government experts were reviewing the first data as they considered recommending that vaccinated people receive booster shots. He suggested that some of the more vulnerable, such as organ transplants and cancer patients, are “likely” to be recommended for booster shots.