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FDA decision on vaccine builds upon Prof. Ron Milo study


Date: November 3, 2021
Weizmann Magazine

In September, an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to endorse Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for recipients of the company’s coronavirus vaccine who are age 65 or older, or at high risk of contracting severe COVID-19. The panel’s decision rested largely on evidence provided by Israeli researchers led by Prof. Ron Milo from Weizmann’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

As reported in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier that same week, Prof. Milo and colleagues found that booster shots administered to individuals over 65 who had received the first two doses at least five months prior resulted in substantially lower rates of COVID-19 and severe illness. The scientists demonstrated that immune protection in doubly vaccinated individuals wanes significantly after six months, but with the booster shot, rebounds.
Yinon Bar-On, a doctoral student in Prof. Milo’s lab, is the lead author, which included contributions from scientists and clinicians around the country.

The FDA panel’s endorsement guides the national health policy recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result, approximately 70 million Americans became eligible for the vaccine booster.
For Prof. Milo, the broad impact of his lab’s work is deeply gratifying. “It is rewarding to see how our analyses done in Israel can be of such usefulness both to our colleagues and to policymakers in the US and around the globe.”

—Anne Sperling


Prof. Ron Milo is supported by the Charles and Louise Gartner Professorial Chair, the Mary and Tom Beck Canadian Center for Alternative Energy Research, Miel de Botton, Sonia T. Marschak, and Seed for Peace, Inc. / Tova Leidesdorf.