Pfizer says COVID booster protects against omicron

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Pfizer says a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine appears to offer important protection against the new omicron variant.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech tested how well vaccine-produced antibodies could neutralize omicron in lab dishes.

They found significant weakening after the standard two doses. But a booster dose increased antibody levels by 25-fold.

"In order to protect against omicron, you need to train the immune system with multiple vaccinations," said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer. "We’re so pleased to inform today that three vaccinations with the current vaccines induces a robust protective level."

The companies said two doses still may protect against severe illness.

Vaccine makers already are tweaking their vaccine recipes to create an omicron-specific dose in case it’s needed.

Pfizer predicted its candidate could be ready for regulators to consider in March.

They announced the findings Wednesday in a press release. The data is preliminary and hasn’t undergone scientific review.

"It’s a positive message today that we think should calm and give comfort to everyone not to be concerned, but please go and vaccinate yourself," Dolsten said.

He added: "Three doses is really what’s required to effectively protect from omicron."