SAN ANTONIO — Coronavirus case numbers here in south Texas are still very low compared to the peak earlier this year, but a new variant that has already been found here in San Antonio could change all that.
It is called BA.2, a subvariant of Omicron and it has already been found to be almost twice as contagious as the original Omicron that tore through the country just a couple of months ago.
Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist with University Health and UT Health San Antonio told us, "We're seeing increased activity in certain areas. United States, but also around the world, are seeing that you're more so. We're particularly concerned about Europe because every time that Europe has had an increase, we have followed them weeks to a month or so afterwards."
In the UK 82 percent of adults have had a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In the United States that number is a mere 36 percent. And, among Americans over the age of 65 who are eligible for a booster, one in three have not gotten that third dose.
Dr. Bowling added, "Pfizer has just applied for a fourth dose for people over 65, with the idea being there, maybe even another booster dose. But obviously for people that have only had two doses, they need to get that third dose "
The United Kingdom's Health Agency found that effectiveness of the original vaccine series after six months against Omicron fell to 10 percent for infections, 35 percent for hospitalizations and 70 percent for deaths.
Four to six months after a third dose boosters were only as much as 50 percent effective at preventing infection and as much as 85 percent at preventing hospitalizations for all adults.
Dr. Bowling also said, "We're not seeing an increase in cases yet here in the United States. But that rising trend in value is worrisome because that's what happened in Europe before they started seeing their cases and hospitalizations rise."
Dr. Bowling says don't wait until cases climb to get that booster because it takes several weeks for the effectiveness to kick in.
To find out how to get a booster through University Health click here: University Health Vaccination Hub.