BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Studies on the Omicron variant continue to determine its severity. We connect with local health officials to determine what the data is saying so far.
Houston officials reported nine more cases of the Omicron variant on Thursday. Studies on the omicron variant are ongoing for about three weeks now. Local health experts say more answers are coming soon.
Dealing with the news of a new variant isn’t uncharted territory, so with the trends seen so far, local health experts say they’re not too worried.
”Right now, everything that I've seen so far is reassuring," said Dr. Jason McKnight, primary care and population health expert with Texas A&M. "Not necessarily a mild variant but hopefully not as severe as what we’re initially anticipating it could have been."
Although hospitalizations are down as well as death rates Dr. Jason McKnight said it may be too soon to track.
The health department numbers say zero fatalities have been reported in nearly a week.
“One thing that we do have to keep in mind when we look at case rate versus death rate is that death rate typically lags anywhere from two to four weeks or sometimes even more behind that case rate,” added Dr. McKnight.
Through random sampling, zero cases of Omicron have been detected in Brazos county.
“But that’s the main way that they test you know another way that they have been testing recently which we see in Houston is actually testing sewage water,” said McKnight.
The Brazos county health department said hospitalizations are averaging one percent.
”One of the reasons why we’re seeing a decrease in deaths and hospitalizations maybe because as the months have gone through this pandemic more and more people are vaccinated,” shared Dr. Kia Parsi, chief medical officer for St. Joseph Health.
Pfizer said its new study shows the vaccine works best against Omicron with the booster dose.
“Now that it has been about three weeks since we have discovered the Omicron variant," shared McKnight. "I think we are probably really close to starting to see some good data to come out about how transmissible it is, and case fatality rates."