AUSTIN (KXAN) — New projections from the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium show hundreds of thousands of Texans could end up in the hospital with BA.4 and BA.5 before the current surge ends, and thousands of those people could die.
The consortium ran different scenarios and came up with a best and worst case.
In the best case scenario — where BA.4 and BA.5 are not more transmissible than previous variants, immunity wanes more slowly and people get their booster shots — the consortium projected between July 5 and Jan. 5, nearly 2.5 million people in Texas could get COVID-19, more than 108,000 people could be hospitalized and more than 6,000 people could die of the virus.
In a worst-case scenario — where BA.4/5 are highly transmissible, immunity from previous infection and vaccine is not strong and folks don’t get boosters — more than 4.5 million Texans are projected to get the virus, 245,000 people could be hospitalized and 15,500 people could die in the same time period.
In both projections, BA.4 and BA.5 more easily evade immunity from a prior infection. Health leaders have determined the BA.5 strain does not produce significant immunity to reinfection.
“There are reports of people getting reinfected within a month of a BA.5 infection,” Dr. Charles Lerner with the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force said.
In the same models, the consortium projected this wave of infections will peak between mid-August and mid-September in Texas.
Health leaders said the best protection against COVID-19 and getting seriously ill or dying is staying up-to-date on vaccines.
While nearly 18 million eligible Texans completed their first round of COVID-19 vaccines — whether that be the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine — less than 40% of those people followed through with a booster shot, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Right now, the CDC recommends a second booster shot for people who are 50 or older and people who are immunocompromised. It recommends everyone five and older have one booster shot until the fall.