Britain and Israel are overhauling their COVID-19 testing policies as governments seek to reduce the burden on laboratories and struggle with tight supplies of kits amid soaring infection rates fueled by the Omicron variant.

Because the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is so infectious, it is surging around the United States. Vaccination is still the best way to prevent severe disease and death, but there is increasing debate on the benefit of yet another booster shot and how long people who show symptoms should quarantine.

A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold a week after the shot is administered, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on January 4, citing preliminary findings of an Israeli study.

Survivors of previous infection with the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2 may be at higher risk for reinfection with the Omicron variant than with earlier versions of the virus, preliminary findings show. Additionally, a booster shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine appears to provide strong protection – at least in the short term – according to data from Israel.

Four leading pharmaceutical companies partnered with Amazon Web Services and Israel Biotech Fund to launch AION Labs, an innovative space that will allow drug developers to harness artificial intelligence technologies and computational science to solve therapeutic challenges.

External advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Sept. 17 to consider data from Pfizer and BioNTech in support of booster shots. Meanwhile, a timeline is being presented on the authorization of Covid-19 vaccines for children.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists said on Sept. 15 that booster doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine may not be needed, even though the third shot generates a higher immune response in recipients.

Additional Covid-19 vaccine booster shots are not needed for the general population, leading scientists including two departing senior U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials and several from the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an article published in a medical journal on Sept. 13.

Pfizer Inc. on Aug. 25 said a booster dose of the company’s two-shot Covid-19 vaccine spurs a more than threefold increase in antibodies against the coronavirus, as the drugmaker seeks U.S. regulatory approval for a third injection.

A third dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older in Israel compared with those who received two shots, findings published by the Health Ministry showed on Aug. 22.