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What we know about the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant in Houston

Three patients at Houston Methodist tested positive for the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant between June 27 and July 4.

HOUSTON — Houston Methodist has identified three cases of the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant among its patients.

RELATED: Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 identified in Houston

“The Delta Plus variant is a variant of COVID-19 that has all the mutations of the Delta variant and has acquired an additional mutation in the spike protein,” Dr. Wesley Long said.

Health officials in India have labeled Delta Plus a variant of concern. Doctors said Delta Plus may impact the effectiveness of vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments.

Patients at Houston Methodist tested positive for the Delta Plus variant between June 27 and July 4.

Dr. Maria Rivera, with Harris County Public Health, said she’s very concerned about new variants, like Delta Plus, spreading locally.

“Whether it's Delta Plus today or Delta Plus Plus tomorrow - or any of the other possible variants - what we know is if we only have a certain percent of the population vaccinated and we still have transmission happening in unvaccinated populations, there’s going to be more variants. What’s happening now is absolutely what we were concerned would happen if we didn’t get to a certain number of vaccinations,” Rivera said.

Only about half of Harris County residents have been fully vaccinated at this point.

“The key point is those patients with severe disease who are being hospitalized almost entirely are unvaccinated,” Long said.

Until more people get vaccinated, doctors said new variants will continue to be a threat.

"A lot of people get the impression the pandemic is over and the pandemic is fine. I think the message we’re trying to send is, unfortunately, the pandemic is not over, if you’re not vaccinated, especially, you’re still at risk," Rivera said.