'We're done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us': Doctors warn of new sub omicron variant wave

Daniela Hurtado Image
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Doctors warn of new sub Omicron variant wave BA 2.12
The Dean at Baylor College National School of Tropical Science considers BA 2.12 the most infectious COVID-19 variant yet.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Some doctors are warning of a summer surge of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Peter Hotez, the Dean at Baylor College National School of Tropical Science, says new sub omicron variants are identified. He says the BA 2.12 variant is considered the most infectious variant yet.

"Looks to me like we're heading towards a full-blown wave that could be almost as significant as omicron in terms of the number of new cases," Hotez said during an interview from home after recently testing positive for COVID. "BA 2.12 is the mother of all variants in terms of transmissibility. It's getting up there with measles. Have respect for it because it can come and get you."

He says the COVID databases nationally may not be getting the full scope of the increase in cases we're experiencing.

"Many people, like myself, are doing home antigen tests and reporting it to their physician. But it's not necessarily being counted by state and federal agencies. So we've always had undercounting of the number of cases, probably by a factor of four. I worry now it's more like a factor of 10 or 20," said Hotez.

Chief of Infectious Diseases at UT Health Houston, Dr. Luis Ostrosky, said they're concerned about this case surge.

"Two sub omicron variants that are considered to be more infectious than omicron itself. However, with this one, we do know there's cross protection immunity wise with omicron," said Ostrosky. "We're done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us. It's there. It's real. It's infecting and killing people actively."

Ostrosky says he's expecting an immunity cliff.

"Where we all of a sudden we lose immunity and we have this variant in circulation, and we can get re-infected," said Ostrosky.

While that's of concern, so are the potential long-term effects of the virus, including on children who are currently testing positive for hepatitis.

"Some new hypothesis being created out there that previous COVID infections prime your immune system. And then, co-infection with a new virus creates these antigens that are common with liver antigens as well. And you get this kind of this autoimmune hepatitis related to the past COVID infection," said Ostrosky.

For updates on this story, follow Daniela Hurtado on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.