Texas’ hospital system confirms its first case of new COVID-19 lambda variant


Just when people were beginning to wrap their heads around the delta variant of COVID-19, this week, Texas’ hospital system has become the first to report a case of the lambda variant.

According to ABC News, Monday, Houston Methodist Hospital, which operates eight hospitals in its network, confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 lambda variant that was first detected in Peru back in Dec. 2020 and has since spread rather quickly throughout South America.

In June, the World Health Organization reported that lambda makes up 81% of COVID-19 cases sequenced in Peru since April and designates lambda as a “variant of interest.”

In the same report, WHO went on to clarify that the lambda variant “has been associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries, with rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased COVID-19 incidence.”

Last week Houston Methodist had a little over 100 COVID-19 patients across the hospital system but by Monday that number had skyrocketed to 185, with a vast majority of the patients being unvaccinated.

Tuesday, during a Senate hearing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the delta variant now accounts for more than 80% of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S.

“We’re seeing an alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 cases across the Houston area, with the steepest increase happening over the weekend,” the hospital system told ABC. “The increased hospitalizations add stress to many of our hospitals that are nearing capacity.”

Now that lambda is part of the narrative, Wesley Long, medical director of Diagnostic Microbiology at Houston Methodist, explained to ABC that currently there is not enough evidence to suggest that this new strain should raise as much concern as delta.

“The lambda is the dominant variant in Peru and Peru has had a very difficult time with COVID-19. It shares mutations in common with the alpha variants, the beta, the gamma, which is the dominant variant in Brazil,” he explained.

“I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence at this point that we should be more concerned about lambda than delta,” he added. “I still think delta is the primary concern for us. There’s a lot more evidence that we have that delta is much more contagious, the viral loads are much higher.”

The CDC and the Biden administration continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated and celebrities have also chimed in to use their platforms to champion those efforts.

As theGrio previously reported, back in the spring Hollywood heavyweight Morgan Freeman sent out an important message to any of his fans who may be on the fence about getting the COVID vaccine.

The Oscar-winner starred in a PSA for The Creative Coalition and the National Blue Ribbon Task Force titled “Be There. This Is Your Shot.” The spot essentially urges Americans to “take care of one another” and do their part in the fight against the coronavirus by getting vaccinated.

“I’m not a doctor, but I trust science. And I’m told that, for some reason, people trust me,” Freeman explained in the PSA. “So here I am to say I trust science and I got the vaccine. If you trust me, you’ll get the vaccine. In math, it’s called the distributive property. In people, it’s called taking care of one another. Get the vaccine. Help make our world a safe place for us to enjoy ourselves again. Please.”

Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition, hopes having familiar faces speak out in support of the vaccine will help the general public be more comfortable with the idea of signing up to get it.

“The arts have extraordinary power to change hearts and minds,” Bronk said in a statement. “By helping people to get the facts about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, we hope this PSA will empower more Americans to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. Together, we can achieve a vaccinated nation and stamp out serious COVID illness once and for all.”

Story & Photo Credit: Blue Telusma /thegrio