COVID-19 ‘Lambda’ Variant: What We Know About this Strain So Far

COVID-19 ‘Lambda’ Variant: What We Know About this Strain So Far

The coronavirus has brought innumerable suffering and loss across the globe. While some countries appear to be doing better than the rest, people are all too aware of the devastation this virus and its strains can cause in a matter of days. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that the COVID-19 strain ‘Lambda’ which was first discovered in August last year has been marked as a ‘Variant of Interest (VOI). The WHO claims that this Lambda strain has been identified in 29 countries, mostly in South America which is where the strain developed or originated.

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In its weekly update, the WHO said that the COVID-19 Lambda variant was marked as a Global Variant of Interest on June 15 considering an “elevated prevalence” across South America. Officials said that the Lambda variant has been spotted in around 81 per cent of the coronavirus cases in Peru since April 2021. 

Meanwhile, the variant was detected among 32 per cent of all the submitted sequences over the past 60 days. This was surpassed only by the Gamma variant that was first detected in Brazil last year. Neighbouring countries like Argentina and Ecuador are also reporting a high volume of cases carrying the Lambda variant.

As per the WHO, the Lambda strain has mutations that could potentially increase transmissibility and even make the virus stronger against antibodies.

No reason to panic yet

Despite the rising number of cases belonging to the Lamdba variant, experts said that the evidence is currently limited and that further studies are necessary to better understand how this particular variant works.  

Also notable is the classification of this variant under Variant of Interest rather than Variant of Concern (VOC). The latter indicates a more serious threat to the population, while a VOI often indicates that a variant is in its nascent stages and that more testing/analysis is required. 

The Delta (B.1.617.2) variant is classified as a Variant of Concern. This particular strain has caused enormous devastation across India in the second wave. A newer mutation, known as Delta Plus (AY.1) was reported in parts of Maharashtra this month. However, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog said earlier this week that Delta Plus hasn’t been classified as a VOC as of yet.

Some of the other Variants of Concern classified since the pandemic first started are Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1), Epsilon (B.1.427), and Epsilon - B.1.429.

ReadCOVID-19 ‘Delta Plus’ Variant: What Are The Experts Saying?

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