Health expert says San Antonio ‘could be in for a world of hurt’ with COVID-19 variants

Viruses frequently mutate and change and COVID-19 is no exception

(San Antonio COVID-19 Image)

SAN ANTONIO – UT Health infectious disease expert Ruth Berggren said San Antonio could be in for “a world of hurt” if members of the community let their guard down with COVID-19.

Berggren said Thursday in a Q&A segment on KSAT that she is very concerned about the COVID-19 variants that she thinks have probably already made it into San Antonio.

“We know that they’ve been found in Houston, and we believe that they’re here,” Berggren said.

Viruses frequently mutate and change and COVID-19 is no exception. There are three variants that health experts are most concerned with-- the United Kingdom variant, the South African variant and the Brazil variant. Each of these appears to spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2.

The good news is that vaccines appear to be effective against the variants, and Berggren said there may even be boosters developed to make sure they’re covered.

“But here’s the problem. We’re in a race right now because it’s going to take a long time to get everybody immunized,” Berggren said. “So we’re not going to have herd immunity before the possibility of these more infectious variants coming to San Antonio.”

She said it’s a reminder that we need to keep practicing the 3 Ws -- wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching our distance.

“I wish I didn’t have to say that to you in January of 2021 as we’re rejoicing about the vaccine, but the truth of the matter is these are more infectious and therefore they can spread more rapidly. If we’re not careful, if we let our guard down, we could be in for a world of hurt,” Berggren said.

Watch the full segment with Berggren in the player below:

KSAT 12 anchors Steve Spriester and Myra Arthur talk with Dr. Ruth Berggren of UT Health San Antonio about the coronavirus variants and other COVID-19 topics.

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About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.