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ST. LOUIS — Pfizer announced on Wednesday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant.

The company said its developing doses specifically targeting the omicron variant. Studies conducted by Pfizer show significantly weakened immunity after the standard two doses, but a booster dose increased antibody levels by 25-fold.

Dr. Mano Patri, an infectious disease specialist at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis, said it’s good news, but more data is needed. She hopes the booster is a benefit as hospitals are seeing an increase in younger COVID patients who are not vaccinated.

“We’ve had a really rough week,” said Patri. “We had a 37-year-old who died. We’ve had a 44-year-old who has died, and these break your heart because there may have been a shot that if they were vaccinated, they may have not been in this position.”

Pfizer said it hopes to have an omicron-specific vaccine by March 2022.