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Could the COVID Lambda variant be a problem for holiday plans?

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, Kentucky goes into this holiday season with...
According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, Kentucky goes into this holiday season with 54.82% of its population fully vaccinated. Indiana trails slightly with 50.4%.(Pexels)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Despite progress, a COVID all-clear remains elusive, and doctors warn that the holidays will be dangerous.

As cases of the Delta variant decline, the focus has moved to the Lambda variant, which is now widespread in South America.

“People who are fully vaccinated should be well protected against that,” UofL epidemiologist Dr. Mark Burns said. “The people who are unvaccinated however have to be extremely cautious.”

The Lamba variant has been found in Louisville wastewater, but it is not widespread, according to Burns.

A study published in July followed a Lambda variant surge in Chile, “suggesting that the lambda variant is proficient in escaping from the antiviral immunity elicited by vaccination.”

“There has not been enough studies done on this yet,” Burns said. “The mutations are in the protein but it hasn’t been determined how much more transmissible it may be or even escapability of the vaccine has not been determined yet.”

Burns said the vaccines will allow countless families to celebrate the holidays in a pre-pandemic manner. Only a year ago, most holiday travel plans began with a trip to a testing center and nasal swabs.

Kentucky enters the holiday season with 54.82% percent of its population fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Indiana is slightly behind with 50.4%. And, according to health officials, there is plenty of vaccine and time to get fully vaccinated before Christmas.

“They still have time to do that and get their first vaccine by the middle of November,” Norton Medical Group VP Craig Johnson said, “and that should give them enough time to get their second dose and have full immunity.”

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