COVID-19 vaccine boosters can significantly decrease the already low risk of death fully vaccinated people face from the virus, a new study finds.
A research team led by Clalit Health Services in Tel Aviv, Israel, found that a fully vaccinated person receiving a booster shot reduces their risk of death by up to 90 percent.
The study was conducted between August and September, while the Delta variant was dominant in the country, but before the discovery of the Omicron variant.
Fully vaccinated people still do not face a very high risk, with a death rate of less than 0.02 percent found in the study, but for people vulnerable to Covid due to their age or a comorbidity the study shows how important the booster can be for them.
Researchers found that getting a booster shot (blue line) could reduce the already low-risk of death faced by fully vaccinated (red line) people by 90%. They also found that being a male, diabetes, pulmonary disease and kidney failure all increase a person’s risk of death, even if they are fully vaccinated
Israel has had relatively high vaccine demand among its population, and 40% of the population has already received their booster shots. Pictured: A woman in Netanya, Israel, receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on January 20
The study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, gathered data from nearly 850,000 Israelis for the study.
Israelis generally have have a higher demand for the Covid vaccines than people in many other countries, with the Middle Eastern nation quickly getting ahead of the rest of the world in its rollout of the jabs early on.
Once boosters became available in recent months, many were quickly to take up the additional shots as well.
According to official data, 63 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, with 45 percent of residents having received their booster shot.
Within the study, 757,000 participants have received their booster, with 83,000 being fully vaccinated but not yet having received the additional shot.
Researchers followed up with the patients for the 54 days following the start of the study period in early August.
They found that people who had received their booster shot were only 10 percent as likely to be infected with Covid than those that were just fully vaccinated.
During the period, they also found that 137 of the nearly 84,000 participants of the study had died from Covid.
For people who had received their boosters, 65 of the 757,000 died during the 54 days.
Researchers then adjusted the data for other factors like age and comorbidities, and found that people who had gotten the additional shot were only ten percent likely to die of the virus than their fully vaccinated peers.
The research team also looked at other factors, and calculated differences in risk of death based on those factors.
They noted that despite the drastically different life styles of many in the country based of race or religion, there was no significant change in death risk among racial groups.
‘The main population sectors in Israel — the general Jewish population, Arab population, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish population — have different health-related behavioral patterns. Our analysis was adjusted for these subpopulations, but the adjustment did not significantly affect the study outcomes,’ researchers wrote.
‘This observation may be explained by the fact that all participants included in our study had chosen to receive the first two doses early in the vaccination campaign, and therefore, it is possible that they had similar health care–seeking behavior.’
They found that males were 149 percent more likely to die of Covid than women were during the period, though did not explain why.
People suffering from lung cancer were at the most risk, with a 220 percent increase in risk of death, and those with chronic kidney cancer were the next highest with a 127 percent increased death risk.
Other conditions like diabetes (29 percent increased risk of death), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (31 percent) and chronic heart failure (41 percent) also put people had an increased risk of death, whether they had received a booster or not.
Being obese increased death risk by 17 percent, and smokers are at a 10 percent increased risk of death.
While the study was performed before the emergence of the Omicron variant last month, is solidifies health officials case for why the additional shots are needed.
Pfizer, manufacturer of the most commonly used Covid vaccine in America, announced Wednesday that it had data showing its shot was less effective at preventing infection from Omicron, but receiving a booster would increase variant-fighting antibodies 25-fold.
So far, nearly 50 million Americans have received their booster shots, with around half having received the Pfizer jab.