“Our preliminary, first data set indicate that a third dose could still offer a sufficient level of protection from disease of any severity caused by the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Ugur Sahin, the chief executive officer of BioNTech, Pfizer’s German partner.

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that laboratory tests suggest that three doses of their coronavirus vaccine offer significant protection against the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the virus, the New York Times reports.

The companies said that tests of blood from individuals who received only two doses found more than a 25-fold reduction in antibody levels against the Omicron variant compared to an earlier version of the virus. That finding indicates that two doses alone “may not be sufficient to protect against infection” by the new variant, the companies said.

But the blood samples obtained from people one month after they had received a booster shot showed neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant comparable to the levels of antibodies against a previous version of the virus after two doses, the companies said in a statement.

At the same time, the tests suggested that the mutations in Omicron do not appear to significantly affect T cells — another critical part of the immune system’s response. That suggests “vaccinated individuals may still be protected against severe forms of the disease” after only two doses, the companies said.

The results seem to underscore the importance of booster shots in combating the new variant.

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