Public well being authorities in Texas are nonetheless strongly urging folks to vaccinate and to get boosters, particularly as the vacation season closes in. About 58% of the state’s eligible population — aged 5 and older — is absolutely vaccinated towards the coronavirus.
Docs and well being officers in Texas say that the omicron variant of COVID-19 may very well be discovered within the state throughout the subsequent couple of weeks — if it isn’t already right here. No instances had been reported within the U.S. as of Monday afternoon.
San Antonio Metropolitan Well being District officers are monitoring the state of affairs, and mentioned they “absolutely anticipate to see some instances quickly.”
“It’ll take two to 4 weeks to start to know the way severe a risk that is… The brand new omicron variant has been described as ‘extraordinarily gentle’ by the South African physician who first raised the alarm over the brand new pressure,” an announcement from Metro Well being mentioned.
Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor Faculty of Medication in Houston mentioned the variant could already be in Texas, and that scientists will know quickly whether or not present COVID-19 vaccines are efficient towards it. He advised CNN it is unlikely that it will likely be completely resistant.
“Our scientists at Texas Youngsters’s Hospital and Baylor are actually wanting precisely at that — our immune response to our vaccine, seeing if it cross-neutralizes omicron,” Dr. Hotez mentioned.
He added that the delta variant continues to be his largest concern, and he doesn’t absolutely assist travel restrictions that went into impact Monday by President Joe Biden. The U.S. has banned journey to seven nations — not together with Canada — which reported its first case of the brand new variant this weekend.
“I believe the underside line is there’s rather a lot we do not know. I am not panicking about this variant but proper now, truthfully. It has accelerated in a single province in South Africa, the place Pretoria and Johannesburg are situated — a extremely urbanized province of South Africa,” Hotez advised MSNBC. “It doesn’t suggest it’ll do the identical wherever else.”
Houston Methodist Hospital has not detected the omicron variant in any of its sequencing. Since the hospital is able to conduct large-scale pathogen genomic sequencing, Houston is commonly one of many first cities within the nation to detect variants. Its well being division is working to assemble new info on omicron and is sharing it with Mayor Sylvester Turner, in accordance with the mayor.
“Till we get extra info one of the best ways to maintain it at arm’s size is to get the vaccine. And in case you’ve already gotten the vaccine, get the booster,” Turner mentioned.
Matt Harab and Paul Flahive with Houston Public Media contributed to this story.
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