Israeli researchers have determined that a third (“booster”) dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective at preventing both infection and severe illness, according to a first-in-world study published September 15 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Findings suggest that the third dose boosts immunity about tenfold compared to those who had received only two doses of the vaccine at least five months earlier.
The study was done by an interdisciplinary group of experts from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ministry of Health, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Gertner Institute at Sheba Medical Center and the KI Research Institute.
Safety study, cancer study
Another Israeli study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on September 16, reveals that the Pfizer vaccine was not associated with an elevated risk of adverse events such as Bell’s palsy, appendicitis and herpes zoster infection, among others, yet it was associated with an excess risk of myocarditis (1 to 5 events per 100,000 people).
However, the researchers found that the risk of myocarditis and of many other serious adverse events was substantially increased after SARS-CoV-2 infection – suggesting it’s safer to get the vaccine than the disease.
Meanwhile, a study by Belong.Life, an Israeli developer of social and professional networks for managing and navigating various diseases and patient journeys, shows that the relative risk of non-vaccinated cancer patients being infected with Covid-19 is 21.5 times higher than that of those who are vaccinated.
Among more than 1,000 “Belong – Beating Cancer Together” users receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, 97% did not experience major side effects from the shot. Of the 49% who received the vaccine during active cancer treatment, 96% did not have to delay, interrupt or cease therapy to get their vaccine.
The research, which is the first large report on real-world data obtained voluntarily from cancer patients, is being presented at the ESMO Virtual Congress 2021.
“We were very pleased to see the high level of vaccination among study participants, which seems to provide a ‘firewall’ against Covid-19 viral pandemic,” said Dr. Eli Sapir, co-author of the study and director of radiation oncology at Assuta Ashdod Hospital.