Closeup image of senior woman receiving a vaccination; Credit: Getty Images

New data from vaccine maker Pfizer and Israel’s health ministry may help U.S. health agencies make a case for recommending COVID-19 booster shots, various sources report.

Among more than 1.1 million adults aged 60 and older, there was an 11-fold decrease in the relative risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the relative risk of severe illness decreased more than 10-fold. That’s according to a study that will be published by the New England Journal of Medicine this week, an Israeli official has told CNN

The results indicate that administering booster shots has great potential for curtailing the delta variant resurgence, the authors wrote before the study was peer-reviewed.

Pfizer, meanwhile, says the data from Israel reveal that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine administered six months after a second shot will restore waning vaccine efficacy to 95%, according to CNBC.

The news comes days before advisers to top U.S. health agencies are scheduled to review existing evidence related to the advisability of providing a third mRNA COVID-19 vaccine shot to more Americans. On Aug. 12, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of both the Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines as booster doses in certain fully vaccinated, immunocompromised individuals. 

Vaccine efficacy declines

The New England Journal of Medicine is also set to publish additional data from the country’s health ministry showing that vaccine efficacy plummeted over time in people over age 60, CNN reported. 

Just two months from receipt of a second vaccine dose translates to a big difference in protection from post-vaccination, or breakthrough infections, that study shows. Seniors who were fully vaccinated in March were 60% more protected from infection than those dosed in January. And they were 70% more protected from severe illness, according to CNN.

Israel, which began a countrywide vaccine campaign using Pfizer-BioNTech’s drug early in the pandemic, has served as a source of evidence for U.S. health officials ever since. It began offering adults aged 60 and older a third shot of the vaccine in late July in a bid to slow the spread of infection due to the highly transmissible delta variant. It later expanded the booster campaign to all vaccinated Israelis.

Related stories:

Boosters on the way: LTC residents, healthcare workers may top fed’s list after CDC approves 3rd shot

State leapfrogs feds on booster shots, putting nursing homes in a jam

Show us the data: COVID vaccine boosters may get go-ahead, but LTC docs remain wary

FDA, WHO officials warn against rush to COVID boosters