Leading SA: UT Health SA doctor says 97% of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals are unvaccinated

“It really is important that we all wear a mask,” Dr. Leverence says

SAN ANTONIO – Hospitals are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients across the country and throughout Bexar County due to the Delta variant.

Dr. Robert Leverence, with UT Health San Antonio, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss what hospitals are seeing and what comes next in the county’s fight against COVID-19.

Ninety-seven percent of the patients in the hospital admitted for covid are unvaccinated patients. You know, the staff there, they’re very committed. But, you know, this is their fourth round with this surge. And so I’d have to say they’re tired, too, and a little bit concerned that if people come in either for covid or for some other reason, they may not be able to get the care that they hoped for just due to delays from the crowdedness in the hospital,” Dr. Leverence said.

That means that only 3% of the people in the hospitals he is seeing are vaccinated, which is proof that the vaccines are effective.

Although if you are vaccinated, you can still catch COVID-19 but your symptoms will likely not be near as severe, according to Dr. Leverence.

“Fortunately, it should be a very mild case. In fact, so mild that our concern is that many vaccinated people are acting as vectors of infection and they’re infecting other people, particularly those who have not been vaccinated and they don’t even know it. So it really is important that we all wear a mask,” Dr. Leverence said.

We did discuss at what point should the country feel safe from this pandemic.

“The Delta is a bit of a game-changer. It’s a different biology, as you know. It’s much more infectious than the original alpha variant is. And so before, we felt that we needed a 75% community immunity to get control of this virus. Now, with the increased infectivity of Delta, it looks like it’s more like 90% of the community needs to be immune... So we still certainly have our work cut out for us,” Dr. Leverence said.

We also discussed the possibility of a third shot, a booster shot, that could help combat COVID-19.

It’s just another dose of the second one. At least that’s what Israel is likely doing... There is some evidence that a booster shot, particularly for those with weakened immune systems, could confer some benefit. However, neither the CDC nor the FDA or the World Health Organization are endorsing this right now, mostly because we still have our work cut out for us in getting people the first shot. And the concern is that we have if we turn our attention to giving boosters to people who have already been vaccinated, the opportunity cost is that we’re not going to get up to that 90% community prevalence. So it’s a tough situation. I think ultimately we will approve the CDC and the FDA will approve a third vaccine. They’re just not ready to do that yet,” Dr. Leverence said.

You can watch the full interview with Dr. Leverence in the video player above.

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About the Author

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

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