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Alpha, delta, lambda: What you need to know about the different COVID-19 strains

The key message is to continue to urge Ohioans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven’t already.

OhioHealth Infectious Diseases Medical Director Dr. Joseph Gastaldo is weighing in on the growing concern of the delta variant of COVID-19.

“Unvaccinated people should fear the delta variant,” he said. “We call it the super-spreader. People who are infected with the delta variant are twice as contagious compared to the alpha variant. Nationally, we are seeing more COVID in under-vaccinated areas, and moving forward, in the fall and the winter, we will continue to see more COVID in unvaccinated individuals.”

A new strain, the lambda variant, has recently been identified in Texas.

“The lambda variant was first recently identified in South America,” he said. “It has been identified here in our country [and] at this point in time it’s really too new for us to know much about the lambda variant. It needs to be studied and, of course, with so much infection around the world Lambda is not going to be the last variant [and] more are expected.”

Dr. Gastaldo says it’s likely the lambda variant is already in Ohio.

“That possibility does exist,” Dr. Gastaldo said. “The CDC did state recently, however, based on their testing over 80 of all of the circulating strains of Covid-19 are the Lambda variant. It’s the fittest variant and by that statistic that’s probably the likely predominant strain circulating here in Ohio.”

The key message, Gastaldo says, is to continue to urge Ohioans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven’t already.

“If you are fully vaccinated do not fear the delta variant,” he said. “About 99 percent of current hospitalizations and death are in unvaccinated people. Remember, these vaccines de-fang the virus. In the uncommon situation where someone gets Covid after being fully vaccinated, symptoms will be mild in most people.”