Tennessee doctor says Lambda variant is more contagious than original strain

Only 13% of ICU beds are available in Tennessee.
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 11:05 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -Since July 1, there’s been a 200% spike in COVID cases in Tennessee. Commissioner Lisa Piercey with the state health department says vaccines are still the best way to combat the virus, as the state still sits below 40% of fully vaccinated people.

Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says there are now three visible variants of COVID-19.

The Alpha variant is the original strain, and the Delta variant is now said to be the most contagious variant. Now there’s the Lambda variant which according to Schaffner, came from Peru back in August and has now made it’s way to the U.S.

Although more contagious than the Alpha variant, Schaffner says the Lambda variant is less contagious than Delta and that there’s no known increase or decrease in how sick each variant can make you. He also goes on to say that the vaccine is shown to protect you from all three variants.

Even though Piercey says 97% of people that are in the hospital from COVID and 98% of the people that have died from COVID were not vaccinated, that percentage is not one hundred percent. She says that there’s been about a thousand positive cases in Tennessee where someone has been fully vaccinated but still tested positive, which are called breakthrough cases and they’re impacting older people more.

“And for us here in Tennessee over half of our breakthrough cases are in people age group 60 or older,” Piercey said.

Right now, there are 13% of ICU beds available in Tennessee and Piercey and Schaffner both say the best way to prevent being seriously ill from the virus is to get the vaccine.

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