Lambda COVID Variant Detected in Texas Hospital

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Newsweek 20 July, 2021 - 06:09am 42 views

Houston COVID cases on the rise as new variant emerges

FOX 26 Houston 20 July, 2021 - 11:00am

Houston Methodist confirms its 1st lambda variant case

Becker's Hospital Review 20 July, 2021 - 11:00am

Houston Methodist Hospital has identified its first COVID-19 hospitalization linked to the lambda variant, the Houston Chronicle reported July 19.

The variant was first detected in Peru in August 2020 and has since been circulating in South America. About 800 lambda cases have been reported in the U.S., 30 of which occurred in the last month, according to the Houston Chronicle.

It is still unclear whether lambda is more contagious than other variants, and there is no reason to suspect it would significantly affect vaccine efficacy, according to S. Wesley Long, MD, PhD, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist.

"While they will be watching lambda closely, Houston Methodist's genome sequencing experts are not overly concerned about lambda compared to delta," Dr. Long said in a statement to Becker's. "The massive spike in delta, severe infections and hospitalizations is what's cause for concern right now and vaccination is our best defense."

Overall, COVID-19 hospitalizations have jumped 70 percent at Houston Methodist Hospital in the past week. As of July 19, the hospital had 184 COVID-19 inpatients, double the number of patients seen July 1.

Nearly every patient was not vaccinated and about 85 percent were infected by the delta variant, Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom, MD, wrote in an email to staff that was obtained by the Houston Chronicle. 

Houston Methodist Hospital records first lambda variant as COVID cases double since July 1

Houston Chronicle 19 July, 2021 - 05:00pm

COVID-19 hospitalizations at Houston Methodist Hospital have increased by 70 percent over the last week, including a large number of delta variant cases and the hospital's first recorded case of the lambda mutation, the hospital said Monday.

As of Monday morning, Methodist was treating 184 people for COVID-19, double the number recorded on July 1, CEO Marc Boom wrote in an email to hospital staff that was shared with the Chronicle.

At least one hospitalization was for the lambda variant, the first such case at Methodist.

Nearly all of the patients are unvaccinated, Boom wrote, and about 85 percent have the delta variant, a more-contagious and deadly mutation of COVID-19 that has been spreading across the United States and Texas in recent weeks.

The lambda mutation was first recorded last summer in Peru, and has since been spreading throughout many parts of South America. So far it has only accounted for about 800 cases in the United States, about 30 of which have been recorded in the last month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization classified the lambda variant as one of interest last month, though the CDC has not yet followed suit. Boom said there is still much to learn about the mutation, particularly whether it is more transmissible or resistant to vaccines than other mutations before it.

One study of Chilean healthcare workers published last month found “mutations present in the spike protein of the lambda variant confer increased infectivity and escape to neutralizing antibodies” in CoronaVac, a Chinese vaccine.

Delta, meanwhile, has been “running rampant” among unvaccinated people, Boom said, and he expects it to account for virtually all of recorded COVID cases within the next few weeks.

“It is the variant of concern in Houston,” he said. “What we're seeing now is that delta is far more infectious than” predecessors such as the alpha mutation that originated in the United Kingdom.

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On HoustonChronicle.com: COVID infections are on the rise again in Houston. Will there be another surge?

The surge at Methodist is consistent with what other healthcare providers have recorded as of late. Hospitalizations across the state have increased by more than 75 percent since June 27, when 1,428 hospital beds were filled. That number has since surpassed 2,500.

Meanwhile, vaccination rates in Texas have continued to stall, particularly in more rural parts of the state.

Last week, the Houston Health Department said tests for COVID-19 in wastewater samples, which usually run ahead of testing figures and four weeks ahead of hospitalizations, suggest an uptick in cases.

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