UT Health SA doctor is ‘optimistic’ vaccines will prove effective for potential new variants

“We will eventually get off of this roller coaster. It’s just not happening as quick as we’d like,” Dr. Leverence said

SAN ANTONIO – We are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases in Bexar County and across the country. So, what does the latest COVID-19 forecast look like and what does it mean for parents and local families?

Dr. Robert Leverence, chief medical officer for UT Health San Antonio Physicians Practice, joined Leading SA Sunday to explain what the county is seeing with in the current COVID-19 surge and what could come next.

“Well, as we’ve come to learn, these COVID surges, they tend to be coupled with holidays. We’re not surprised that we’re seeing one once again after Christmas and New Year’s, so we appear to be peaking out, although we may not quite have reached it yet, so we’re still bracing for the worst of it,” Dr. Leverence said.

There is the notion that COVID-19 may become an endemic and more predictable.

“That’s where we hope to get to with this pandemic is to evolve into an endemic situation. That’s where you have a low-level activity of an infection in a predictable way, probably similar to how we view the flu, that we can predict that each year we’re going to have a surge, we’re going to get our vaccinations beforehand and it doesn’t disrupt our lives to the degree that we’re seeing with COVID right now,” Dr. Leverence said.

Dr. Leverence also discussed booster shots. Many immunocompromised individuals will be getting their fourth shot soon, but the shots may be far from over.

“For many immunization programs, boosters are a regular part. Again, whether it’s the flu shot, which we get annually, which is a type of booster, or the tetanus shot which you get every 10 years, we suspect the same thing is in store for that a COVID vaccination. The frequency of these boosters really unclear at this time. It depends how this all ends up unfolding as we hopefully soon enter into an endemic state. But yeah, I think COVID boosters are certainly in our future,” Dr. Leverence said.

While there is a possibility of more variants to come, the vaccine has proven effective, Dr. Leverence said.

“I’m optimistic about it. Clearly, so far, every variant has been susceptible to the vaccines. Also, now we have a real game-changer -- a one-two punch, as you will. And that’s the new antivirals, which is sort of like an antibiotic for this COVID virus. And so I feel that we are moving in the in the right direction. We will eventually get off of this roller coaster. It’s just not happening as quick as we’d like,” Dr. Leverence said.

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

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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