Texas hospital records first US case of Lambda variant of Covid

Houston Methodist health system was also one of first to require staff to get vaccinated

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Wednesday 21 July 2021 20:47 BST

Hospital leaders say possible 4th wave of COVID-19 could hit Houston

A Texas hospital system has confirmed its first case of the Covid-19 Lambda variant.

The Lambda variant was first detected in Peru last August, and made up 81 per cent of the South American country’s Covid cases between April and June.

Houston Methodist Hospital, which has eight facilities in the state, confirmed its first case on Monday.

The World Health Organisation says that the variant, which it calls “a variant of interest”,  has now been found in 29 countries.

That designation places it apart from a “variant of concern”, such as the Delta variant that was first identified in India. The highly contagious Delta variant has sparked a wave of new Covid cases and become the dominant strain in the United States. Health officials say Delta now accounts for more than 80 per cent of confirmed Covid cases in the US.

Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist, told ABC News that there is not enough evidence to suggest that Lambda will become more of an issue than Delta.

“I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence at this point that we should be more concerned about lambda than Delta.

“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,” he said.

Cases of Covid have almost doubled in the Houston Methodist system, jumping from 100 last week to 185 on Monday.

“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 said in a statement.

“The increased hospitalizations add stress to many of our hospitals that are nearing capacity.”

Last month Houston Methodist saw 153 employees resign or be fired for refusing to comply with the hospital system’s vaccination mandate.

It was one of the first health systems in the country to require employees to get a Covid-19 vaccination, a policy upheld by a federal judge.

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