Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, this afternoon. He visited the coronavirus ward control center where hospital Director General Prof. Yitshak Kreiss briefed him on the medical center's preparations for the Omicron wave and for absorbing patients. Prime Minister Bennett also spoke by video with coronavirus patient Yuni Nissim, who is at home being monitored by the ward.

During the visit, Infection Prevention and Control Unit Director Prof. Gili Regev-Yohai briefed the Prime Minister on the preliminary results of the research study that was carried out regarding the fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Following is Prime Minister Bennett's statement to the media:

""I am now finishing a visit at Sheba Medical Center. The Omicron wave is growing. We bought five precious weeks during which the State of Israel made necessary preparations. During the visit, we have seen the hospital's preparation here, as well as in all of Israel, to be able to absorb a very high number of severely ill Omicron patients.

"The wave now is really increasing and we expect to have tens of thousands of verified cases already in the next few days. The good news is that the vaccines work, so anyone who gets vaccinated and properly wears a mask will probably not get seriously ill, and it will pass in a few days. Therefore, it is in our hands.

"Hospitals and HMOs across the country are preparing both for moderate and severe scenarios. We, the Government of Israel, are doing everything in our power to meet our goal of maintaining the routine of the Israeli economy as much as possible, while protecting our society's most vulnerable.

"Who are the most vulnerable in our society? They are made up of two groups. It's the unvaccinated, especially children. First of all, there are many children up to the age of five who cannot be vaccinated and children ages 5-12, of whom a significant number of them have already been vaccinated but many have not been or are not fully vaccinated. We bought precious time, we called on you to get vaccinated and we still say, take the children already today to get vaccinated and you will save heartache, isolation, and G-d forbid, severe illness.

"The second group affected is composed of adults over the age of 60 and people with pre-existing conditions.

"I am now pleased to announce, together with Professor Kreiss and Professor Regev who are conducting the study, that the initial study regarding the fourth dose shows that within about a week of receiving it there is an almost 5-fold increase in the number of antibodies in the blood. Apparently, this will demonstrate a much higher level of protection than without the fourth dose, both in relation to infection and the spread of the virus and in relation to severe morbidity. In simple Hebrew, the fourth vaccine is safe. That's for sure. The fourth vaccine, very likely, works.

"Therefore, I am very pleased that in the two days since we announced the possibility of getting the fourth dose, over 100,000 Israelis have already registered or been vaccinated. Yesterday, I believe over 20,000 adults. Take advantage of it and take the time to do this.

"Again, I want to say thank you. The State of Israel not only protects its own people and its own citizens, the State of Israel is truly at the forefront of research on the issue of COVID-19. 'For out of Zion shall the Torah come forth'. For out of Sheba shall the Torah come forth. From here, we are studying the data and giving it to the whole world, and through your dedicated work saving lives. No less," Bennett concluded.