BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A physician assistant in Brownsville said his clinic has tested a COVID-19 positive patient that may have the Omicron variant.
Eder Hernandez, Physician Assistant with Valley Med Urgent Care, said they sent the sample to an Austin laboratory for testing.
“They sent us some information, an addendum, that they have possibly identified one of our samples that could have Omicron variant,” said Hernandez.
The sample is still to be looked at for confirmation of the omicron variant.
“They’re deferring that sample over to the health department… the State of Texas for further genomic sequencing to verify that this is an actual omicron patient,” said Hernandez.
Although the case is not confirmed, Hernandez said he is almost certain the variant is in the Rio Grande Valley.
“According to CDC’s surveillance, 33 percent of infections are omicron and 26 percent are Delta. I truly expect that within the next two weeks, 95 to 99 percent of all infections will be the Omicron variant,” he said.
The new variant is raising concerns about the treatment available for patients infected with the variant.
“According to CDC and a recent email that FDA sent us this morning, the monoclonal infusions being used in the infusion centers and within our group, unfortunately, the combination of the bamlanivimab and etesevimab made by Eli Lilly is now showing that in the lab it’s not effective against Omicron,” said Hernandez.
He said he and his staff are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of Healthcare Emergency Management to prepare for a possible surge of the virus.
“I’ve requested them to send us a specific product by the name of sotrovimab. Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody. The beauty of this monoclonal antibody is that it is effective against Omicron,” he said.
Hernandez explained that his center currently has about 100 doses of the monoclonal antibody and has requested 300 more.
“We aim to help the patient on all angles so they don’t get hospitalized, so the monoclonal infusion as an outpatient is a key to success,” said Hernandez.
He recommended people continue monitoring their health, getting vaccinated, and getting the booster vaccine.