Cases of COVID-19 are slightly increasing in Texas, according to state data. But a new wave of cases and hospitalizations probably wouldn’t be as severe as previous surges of the virus.
Dr. Fred Campbell, a doctor of internal medicine and associate professor of medicine at UT Health San Antonio, spoke to Texas Standard about the state’s current COVID trends and the variants of the virus driving infections:
What’s known about the two COVID variants that are driving new infections?
The two subvariants of omicron, BA.2 and BA2.12.1, are similar in terms of the severity of their infections, Campbell said, both highly communicable but not a whole lot different in terms of their presentations than previous COVID variants.
“They may cause a little bit more in the way of stuffy nose with this infection, or a little less in the way of decreased taste or smell,” he said. “But in general are going to be very similar, just very, very highly infectious. The virulence is about the same as the previous COVID strains, and that means they are deadly, but not more deadly necessarily than previous strains.”
What’s the latest on booster shots? Should people still be considering them?
Campbell said that high-risk individuals, even if previously vaccinated, should check with their healthcare professionals about how many boosters they might need. A second booster has been encouraged for those who are over 50 or immunocompromised.
“I would encourage people to check with their practitioners and if necessary, actually go to their local health department to get information about the necessity of an additional booster,” he said.
What should we expect for another wave of cases?
Campbell said that while a new wave is likely to be smaller than in the past, safety precautions should still be taken.
“We have a very high degree of vaccination and of course, natural infection, unfortunately as well – not quite as high in Texas as other places – so we still have a significant risk of people having asymptomatic infections and then transmitting those to our high-risk fellow citizens,” he said. “And so I very much make a plea to all Texans to make sure that when you’re indoors with a crowd outside your home, that you continue to mask and practice the social distancing techniques we’ve talked about for over two years.”