By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– The highly-transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant is now the most common variant in the United States. CDPHE says wastewater surveys indicate the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading throughout the state.

(credit: UCHealth)

Fully vaccinated Coloradans are getting COVID-19 after two years of avoiding the virus, but CBS4 spoke to one who says he’s still grateful for the vaccine and the science that led to treatments.

John Ronquillo has both his COVID-19 shots and got his booster about one month ago. He masks up and follows best health practices. Recently he started feeling off. He took a rapid test and saw the bright red line he’d been avoiding for nearly two years: He tested positive for COVID-19.

“Despite all those precautions, despite everything, I still have that breakthrough case and it’s not fun,” said Ronquillo. “I’m definitely feeling them a lot more at night; the brain fog, the congestion, sore throat, coughing, everything that’s been consistent with the Omicron symptoms.”

According to the CDC, the current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19 including the Omicron variant. However, the vaccine doesn’t guarantee 100% protection from the virus.

Recent surges nationwide are causing familiar cancelations, from family gatherings to entire sports matches. But unlike this time last year, there are tools to survive the virus, but doctors say you have to act quickly.

Dr. Carrie Horn is the Chief Medical Officer at National Jewish Health and runs the hospital’s monoclonal antibody treatment program.

(credit: UCHealth)

“The monoclonal antibodies, and hopefully in the near future some oral treatments, are only effective in the first 10 days of symptoms. If you wait to get tested, then it takes time to get the results back, and then it takes time to get in to get the treatment. You might be out of the window,” said Horn.

Horn says it’s critical to get tested early.

“To give them the best chance of working for you, it’s important to get it done right away,” said Horn. “For the monoclonal, we use against the spike protein; they are not effective once you’re sick enough to be in the hospital. They have to be given early to work.”

Ronquillo spoke to his physician and was able to receive his treatment Wednesday.

“It took about 20 minutes through an IV and then they monitored me for about an hour. I felt fairly good last night,” said Ronquillo. “I went to sleep and then you know, like bad colds or flu at nighttime, they tend to get a bit worse. I’m hopeful that I am through the worst of it.”

Omicron symptoms tend to overlap with allergies or the common cold, but many people aren’t losing their ability to taste or sense of smell like with previous variants – making it even harder to self-detect.

(credit: CBS)

Ronquillo says his story shouldn’t be seen as a reason to not bother with the vaccine. Because of it, he’s sure to recover.

“As frustrating as it was seeing that little red line, I know that I’m going to be better off by isolating and taking care of myself. I’m grateful that I got vaccinated in the first place,” said Ronquillo.

Tori Mason