What OU Health Is Identifying In Wastewater Samples As Battle Against COVID-19 Continues

Wednesday, January 12th 2022, 4:26 pm


Doctors at OU Health said the Omicron variant is the dominant variant in their recent wastewater samples.

Oklahoma detected its first Omicron variant case during Christmas week. Since then, wastewater samples with Omicron took off, according to OU Health director of waste study Dr. Jason Vogel.

“It started to increase sooner in Oklahoma City, and it got up to 50 or 60 percent about a week after that around Christmas,” Dr. Vogel said. “Tulsa lagged for the increase for about a week.”

Vogel said researchers continued to test during the holiday season. The state has seen record-high COVID-19 cases to start 2022. Researchers said they're now seeing extremely high levels of Omicron in wastewater.

As of last week's collection, over 95 percent of samples tested positive with Omicron in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

“Seeing it going from not detectable to almost 100 percent in almost two weeks was a little bit of a surprise,” Dr. Vogel said. “We thought it might take a little bit longer than that. We're still seeing small amounts of Delta. There's one or two little pockets where Delta is a little bit more common as we are analyzing some neighborhoods.”

Dr. Vogel said this information is helpful for hospitals.

“There are certain antibodies that work well for Delta that don't work as well for Omicron. Because of the limited supply of antibody treatment right now, they’re really wanting to know what should we expect as far as the cases coming in. How many are Omicron and how many are Delta,” Dr. Vogel said.

Researchers are also looking into some small communities. They said it took longer to get there, but there discovering mostly Omicron in their wastewater, as well.