Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
COVID cases are beginning to go down in many parts of the world and of the United States, but peaking in others. The weekly average of cases in the Texas Medical Center last week was a little over 5,400. While that is better than the few weeks before, it is not close to the 200 cases a day I am looking for to feel we have won the battle.
In this week’s video, there is new information on Omicron. Omicron was first detected in late November in California, Colorado, New York and Texas. In Houston, we test wastewater weekly from 39 sewersheds in the city. Omicron was first detected on Nov. 29. The first clinical detection of Omicron in the city was Dec. 1. Wastewater reports show Omicron decreasing in Boston, New York and Houston. It is still on the rise in smaller communities in Ohio, Florida and Utah.
We now know that with the original COVID virus, symptoms appeared in 5 days; 4 days with Delta and 3 with Omicron. A recent study showed the peak viral loads for Alpha and Delta were at 3 days and the virus was cleared on Day 6. We don’t have the data on Omicron. You are most infectious right before symptoms present and for the few days after.
Currently, there are three branches of the Omicron viral family: BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3. So far, BA.2 does not appear to cause more severe disease. And BA.3, the rarest, appears to be a recombinant of BA.1 and BA.2.
Lots of other science this week including a commentary in Nature that long-COVID symptoms are less likely in vaccinated people. Another study shows the U.S. would have halved its COVID hospitalizations had it matched the vaccine coverage in leading European countries. Other science news includes the latest on antiviral drugs.
And for those of you who enjoy following Lily’s adventures, this week she does compete in a Winter event. She said it is fine that all events rely solely on artificial snow. “It’s all about the competition.”
Lunar New Year has begun and we all celebrate the Year of the Tiger. There is also a lot of red around Baylor today as we participate in National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in women. Finally, congrats to Dr. Robert Atmar, the lead author of a New England Journal of Medicine paper of mix-and-match boosters.
Have a great weekend. Stay safe.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO