Here’s What We Know – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in North Texas, as confirmed by Collin County Health Departments and Tarrant County Public Health.

According to Ayass Bioscience in Frisco, genetic sequencing tests confirmed two cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex over the weekend.

Dr Mohamad Ayass of Ayass Bioscience told NBC 5 that the first patient, a 40-year-old man, had a fever and cough. He had not traveled in the past three months and had no underlying symptoms. Collin County Health Care Services subsequently confirmed this information to NBC 5.

The second patient, a 35-year-old man, worked in the healthcare industry and decided to get tested because of his job, Ayass said. He had no symptoms, but tested positive for the omicron variant. Tarrant County Public Health subsequently confirmed this information to NBC 5.

Both patients had received the first two doses of Pfizer vaccine but had not received a booster. They reported mild symptoms.

Ayass said the lab would submit the test results to the state’s health department.

How the Omicron variant is detected

Ayass Bioscience vice president and senior scientist Dr Lina Abi Mosleh said they process around 1,500 COVID-19 PCR tests every day for more than 30 doctors in the region, emergency care clinics and hospitals.

In January, they started genomic sequencing, which isn’t as easy as looking at cells under a microscope.

They run COVID samples in large machines, giving them a printout that reveals any differences in the genetic code.

“Flow is like reading. When you read a paragraph, you put letters together and you are able to make a sentence,” said Abi Mosleh.

“Then you can say, at the end, based on the sequence of those letters, if it’s Omicron, if it’s Delta, if it’s Delta plus or some other variant.”

Omicron has already been detected in Houston and as it spreads, public health officials will examine how contagious it is, whether treatments are working, and whether boosters can prevent another outbreak.

“There’s really no reason or way that it couldn’t be here in Texas or DFW. It really goes under our radar, which means there are few cases, but it’s probably here. and starts to spread, ”said UT School of Public Health epidemiologist Dr Katelyn Jetelina.

Omicron first detected in Harris County

A Houston-area woman was confirmed this week as having the state’s first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19. The Harris County woman is in her 40s and had no recent travel history, County Judge Lina Hidalgo said on social media on Monday. No other information on the woman and her case has been reported.

Many critical questions about omicron remain unanswered, including whether the virus causes milder or more serious illness and how quickly it will spread.

Scientists point to what is happening in South Africa, where the omicron was first detected. Omicron’s speed in infecting people and achieving near dominance in South Africa has health experts feared the country is at the start of a new wave that could overwhelm hospitals.

But U.S. health officials said on Sunday that if the omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than the Delta, which continues to cause an increase in hospitalizations.

According to Ayass Bioscience, the omicron variant has 60 mutations, including 30 on the spike protein, apparently improving its ability to infect humans.

The Frisco lab also said preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with omicron compared to other variants.

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