Official: Israel to offer adapted COVID-19 booster this month

A man receives the fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel on Dec 31, 2021. (TSAFRUR ABAYOV / AP)

JERUSALEM / AMMAN / YANGON / SINGAPORE / MANILA – Israel will offer the updated COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer/BioNTech designed to combat the Omicron BA.4/5 subvariants by the end of September, a senior health official said on Wednesday.

Israel's coronavirus task force chief Salman Zarka urged those in risk groups to take the booster along with a flu shot, though anyone above the age of 12 and at least three months from a previous shot or COVID-19 illness would be eligible.

"We have been preparing for a while for winter and looking at the possibility of two illness waves in the country, flu and coronavirus, two waves we have seen elsewhere in the world," Zarka told reporters.

Around half of Israel's 9.4 million population has already had three vaccine doses and around 850,000 people have had four, according to health ministry data. More than 4.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Israel since the start of the pandemic, with 11,667 recorded deaths.

Pfizer/BioNtech's so-called bivalent vaccine targets the currently circulating BA.4/5 as well as the strain of the virus that originally emerged in 2019.

While the existing coronavirus vaccines used until now have provided good protection against hospitalization and death, their effectiveness, particularly against infection, was reduced as the virus evolved.


Myanmar confirmed 384 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 617,739, according to the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.

It said that health authorities tested 12,120 people for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and the daily positivity rate was 3.17 percent.

The death toll from COVID-19 in the country rose to 19,444 on Wednesday after one more death was reported in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh talks during a joint press conference after his meeting with his Lebanese counterpart at the Grand Serail in Beirut, on Sept 30, 2021. (JOSEPH EID / AFP)


Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

The agency said the prime minister had taken two rapid tests that confirmed his infection, and a PCR test pending results.

As a precaution, he will adhere to home-isolation procedures within established health protocol until the final result comes out, it added.

Khasawneh tested positive for COVID-19 in February this year.


The Philippines reported 1,709 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,911,487.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases dipped to 24,139, while 34 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 62,416.

Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 655 new cases.

A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 2,426 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the country's total tally to 1,867,168.

Of the new cases, 241 cases were detected through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and 2,185 through antigen rapid tests (ART), according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 212 were local transmissions and 29 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 1,954 local transmissions and 231 imported cases, respectively.

Two death was reported from COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,604, the ministry said.