Doctors study Lambda, possible new COVID-19 variant

ATLANTA — Doctors are keeping a close eye on a possibly newly-emerging COVID-19 variant named Lambda.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Georgia has doubled in the last two weeks.

Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge spoke with a public health researcher about the current status of Georgia in the fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Felipe Lobelo, physician director of epidemiology, believes the increased positivity rate in Georgia is because of the delta variant.

For months, doctors have said getting the COVID-19 positivity rate below 5% is key. Two weeks ago it was below 2% in Georgia, but it is now hovering above 4%.  Lobelo says it’s a concerning trend which he says is likely due to the spreading delta variant.  This variant has hit some of the unvaccinated areas of the country especially hard.

“Its probably just a matter of time for us in Georgia to see a trend. There’s still some time to avoid a huge surge, spikes in cases, hospitalizations if you can get more people vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Lobelo.

Lobelo says the medical community is also watching another variant called Lambda, which is prevalent in South America.

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“We still don’t know fully whether its more transmissible or whether it causes more disease. The WHO has identified Lambda as a variant of interest,” said Lobelo. WHO is the World Health Organization.

Lobelo says the delta variant is becoming the dominant strain in the United States.

“We and others think the CDC probably needs to reconsider guiding about masking indoors, because we know delta is increasing. The high transmission and a lot of people not wearing masks, this is essentially going to be the perfect storm again for a spike in cases,” said Lobelo.

In light of the growing number of cases, Lobelo believes schools should consider mandating wearing masks indoors.