Texas’ hospital system has become the first to report a case of COVID-19’s lambda variant

According to ABC News, Houston Methodist Hospital confirmed its first lambda variant case on Monday. The lambda variant was first detected in Peru in December 2020 and has made up 81 percent of COVID-19 cases sequenced in the country since April 2021.

“The lambda is the dominant variant in Peru and Peru has had a very difficult time with COVID-19,” the medical director of Diagnostic Microbiology at Houston Methodist, Dr. Wesley Long, told ABC. “It shares mutations in common with the alpha variants, the beta, the gamma, which is the dominant variant in Brazil.”

New of the lambda variant in Houston comes as Texas is reeling from a delta variant outbreak. Houston Methodist reportedly only had a little over 100 COVID-19 patients across the hospital system last week. By Monday this number had nearly doubled to 185. 85 percent of these patients were diagnosed with the delta variant and the majority of them were unvaccinated. This spike in cases has put a strain on the network’s staff and resources. 

“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,” a statement from the hospital explains. “The increased hospitalizations add stress to many of our hospitals that are nearing capacity.”

Because of this, Dr. Long thinks concerns should still be focused on the delta variant despite recording the first lambda variant case. 

“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,” Long continued. “There’s a lot more evidence that we have that delta is much more contagious, the viral loads are much higher.”