Odessa man in coma with COVID-19, MCH talks new Brazil variant

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ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – Health care officials in Odessa are revealing new details about a new COVID-19 variant.

The P1 strain, also referred to as the Brazilian Variant, is not yet confirmed in West Texas.

Dr. Alejandra Garcia Fernandez is a Critical Care Medicine Doctor at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. She says there are two types of mutations that can happen to COVID-19.

“One of those mutations allow the virus to replicate and be contagious faster, than the initial strains of COVID-19, earlier in the pandemic,” Garcia Fernandez said. “The second mutation allows the virus to change the confirmation of the protein spike which is the base of the MRNA vaccines we’re using in Pfizer and Moderna.”

But there is assurance, Dr. Garcia Fernandez said medical technology can evolve just as fast as the virus can, to deal with the new mutations. That means vaccines are still effective. She also said there are currently no strains of COVID-19 that make available vaccines ineffective.

We asked Dr. Garcia Fernandez about contracting the new variant. She said there are cases in different countries where the patient hasn’t traveled, or had contact with anyone who has traveled. She also said the virus can mutate naturally, too.

But for Odessa resident Penny Roberts, there are so many questions. Her 39-year-old son, Jerry, is in a medically-induced coma. She says Jerry has COVID-19 and pneumonia. He was admitted to the emergency room at MCH one week ago.

“And I say, ‘Jerry, what is wrong?'” Roberts recalls. “He says ‘I’m having a hard time, mom.’ The last text I got from my son, was ‘help.'”

Jerry was at a wedding in Atlanta last month. He flew back and landed March 21st. When his condition quickly deteriorated, Jerry was hospitalized.

“The next thing I know is, they’re venting him. He’s in a medically-induced coma, and he’s on a machine that’s keeping him alive,” Roberts said.

Penny says her son is an otherwise healthy person. Jerry is a military veteran and a father of two 9-year-old twins. He runs in marathons and competes in numerous sports.

Even though doctors say the “Brazilian Variant” isn’t confirmed to be here in the Basin, yet, Penny is afraid, her son already has it.

“So, he had to have gotten it from somewhere, and the only way we go back is the plane,” Roberts said.

Meantime, doctors at MCH are performing tests to see what type of COVID-19 strain Jerry has.

While Coronavirus cases at MCH are down, the hospital also says they expect to see more cases involving new mutations. That’s because COVID-19 variants can spread at a higher rate.

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