Fort Bend Co. man details what it's like to have South African variant of COVID-19

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Methodist discovered the South African variant of COVID-19 in Fort Bend County, and experts are concerned because the vaccines seem to be less effective against it.

ABC13 talked with Anthony Williams, who tested positive and is now recovering from the variant.

"I just could not breathe. I felt horrible to the point that I didn't know that if I shut my eyes that I will wake up the next day," Williams said. "A combination of fear and just trying to be proactive. Something said, 'Just get up and go to the emergency room.'"

Williams is a pastor, teacher and veteran who survived an injury during an explosion, and being shot on the battlefield in Iraq.

"Honestly, to me, COVID-19 and its variants is worse than [the injuries], because it's a very difficult situation not to know if your next breath is your last breath," Williams said.

He said he has since made a full recovery.

"What people need to focus on is getting vaccinated, and getting protected against all the strains that are out there right now," Professor at Baylor college of Medicine, Robert Atmer, said. "And we may end up having to give boosters. We don't know yet. I think a lot of people are predicting that's going to be needed."

In Harris County, the health department has only found the UK variant of the virus.

However, that doesn't mean the others aren't in the area. The health department says residents still need to keep their guards up.

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ABC13 sat down with the city of Houston's health authority to see how the variant can impact COVID-19 testing and the vaccine.

The Houston Health Department has been analyzing wastewater in different areas of the city to detect COVID-19 for the past year.

Just last week, the UK variant was found in very low levels in multiple wastewater samples. The variant from Brazil hasn't been detected in our area at all.

Dr. David Persse said no one has ever done this before, and it's a new science they're still trying to unravel.

"So this really isn't a surprise. What we hope to do is be able to get a better idea as to how much it may be spreading throughout the community. Again, it won't be terribly specific, but it is pretty sensitive, so we will get an early warning," he said. "Although we may not be able to pinpoint anything, we will at least know what is probably about to happen."

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Everything you need to know about South African COVID-19 variant

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Press play to hear from the researchers on what they found.

COVID-19 vaccine effect on South African variant raises concerns
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There are several highly contagious COVID-19 variants moving in the U.S., including the one that originated in the U.K., which is expected to become the dominant strain by the end of March. But here's why health experts say they're concerned about the South African variant.

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