HOUSTON – The CDC continues to track B.A.2.86. The new COVID variant has been detected in several countries, including the United States. Local doctors say the Houston area is seeing an uptick in patients with the COVID virus.
“I really think that we are going through a major COVID wave right now that’s flying under the radar because nobody is testing lately,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, UTHealth Houston infectious disease specialist with Memorial Hermann.
“In the past two months, we’ve seen the numbers almost quadruple,” Ostrosky said.
Dr. Ostrosky told KPRC 2 that some patients with the virus have been hospitalized, and some have been sent to Memorial Hermann’s ICU. Dr. Michael White, an emergency medicine specialist at HCA Healthcare in Houston, says he has treated babies and people up to 80-years-old for COVID in the last few weeks. White says most of his patients displayed flu-like symptoms, and none of them were admitted to the hospital.
“It’s not causing the problems that the early COVID variant caused,” said Dr. White.
According to the CDC, antibodies from previous infections and vaccinations appear to be effective against B.A.2.86.
“So, if you had COVID before, or if you got vaccinated before, you have some sort of immunity protection from it,” said Dr. White.
The CDC says an updated vaccine will be available in mid-September, and it is expected to help reduce severe cases and hospitalizations.
Dr. Ostrosky advises people to remain vigilant to stay healthy.
“What I am seeing is a lot of polarization, some people that don’t want to have anything to do with COVID and preventing COVID, and people who are still very serious about it and take very serious measures—and what we need is somewhere in-between. You know when there are low COVID rates, you can go about your business normally, and when the rates are high like now, we need to be a little more strategic about it,” said Dr. Ostrosky.
To stop the spread of COVID, the CDC recommends that you stay up to date with vaccinations, stay home if you’re sick, and wash your hands. And if you choose to wear a mask, make sure it covers your nose and mouth.”