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Study finds vaccine booster shots effective as WHO Europe head says they’re ‘not a luxury’

An Israeli woman receives a third coronavirus vaccination in Tel Aviv on Monday. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)
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Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are highly effective against both coronavirus infection and severe covid-19, Israeli scientists reported in a new paper that supports the idea of administering a third dose as protection against the virus wanes.

Researchers at a variety of Israeli institutions looked at data from the nation’s Health Ministry for 1.1 million people 60 or older this month. On July 30, Israel became the first country to make booster shots available to people in that age range who had been fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer vaccine at least five months earlier. The United States plans to start offering booster shots to most people Sept. 20 if the plan is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly urged wealthy nations to hold off on booster shots of the coronavirus vaccines until people in poorer countries can get their first doses. But Hans Kluge, the head of WHO Europe, on Monday called additional doses valuable for those most at risk as he raised alarms about rising coronavirus cases on his continent.

“A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taking away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab,” Kluge said at a news conference. “But it’s basically a way to keep the people safe, the most vulnerable. But at the same time, we need to share. So we need to do it all.“

What to know about coronavirus booster shots in the U.S.

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