Texas hospital reports first case of lambda COVID-19 variant

A Texas hospital system on Monday confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 lambda variant that was first detected in Peru and has quickly spread throughout South America.

Houston Methodist Hospital, a Texas hospital system with eight facilities, confirmed its first lambda case on Monday ABC News reported.

Data on the lambda variant is currently limited, though it has been designated as a "variant of interest" by the World Health Organization. The designation places it apart from a "variant of concern" such as the delta variant.

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News of this new variant in Texas comes as cases in the U.S. have surged, with health officials stating that the highly contagious delta variant has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the country. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyCDC backtracks with new mask guidance Overnight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers CDC: Vaccinated people should now wear masks in high transmission areas MORE said Tuesday that the delta variant now makes up for more than 80 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. 

The director has previously stated that the pandemic will now become one that directly effects the unvaccinated, and U.S. health officials, in addition to the Biden administration, have pushed for Americans to get the shot. 

Wesley Long, medical director of Diagnostic Microbiology at Houston Methodist, told ABC that there is not enough evidence to suggest that the lambda variant is of more concern than the delta strain at this moment. 

"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. 

ABC reports that the number of COVID-19 cases at Houston Methodist have nearly doubled in the past week, going from just over 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 told ABC. "The increased hospitalizations add stress to many of our hospitals that are nearing capacity."