Today, more than 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the world keeps hearing and experiencing new variants of the virus. These variants of coronavirus have led to the rise of casualties and fatalities thus making the pandemic to be as devastating as before.
Some mutations of the virus such as the delta variant and alpha variant (first discovered in India and the U.K respectively) have gone on to dominate globally. This is because they are more transmissible than the previous iteration of the virus. However, while the delta covid variant is currently responsible for wreaking havoc across countries, a new variant has emerged as a potential threat.
The Lambda variant is the newest variant to be on the lookout for. This new variant has been detected in over 25 countries so far. It’s also considered to be highly transmissible and ‘deadlier’ than the delta variant. Hence, the big question is: will it affect the immunity promised by the vaccines we currently have?
Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the Lambda covid variant and its symptoms.
This isn’t entirely a new variant
The Lambda variant isn’t entirely a new variant. It was first detected in Peru in August 2020 where it accounts for over 800 infection cases and became a predominant strain there. However, the variant only began to pick up pace in March 2021. As a result, it has been identified in over 25 countries today.
Where is it exactly?
According to a June 15 report by the WHO, the Lambda variant has been detected in 29 countries. However, it has a stronger presence in South America.
Also, according to Public Health England Data, the Lambda variant has been detected in 26 countries as of June 24. Some of these countries include Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, as well as the U.S., China, Germany, U.K., among others.
Is it a variant of concern (VoC)?
While the Lambda variant isn’t yet a variant of concern, scientists sees it as a possible threat. This is due to its high transmissibility and the mutatious features it carries. Unlike the delta variant (VoC with 3 mutations), the Lambda variant has at least 7 mutations in its spike protein. This makes it lethal and highly transmissible.
As per scientific studies, the Lambda variant also carries greater infectivity rates. However, in cases where it has been detected, the variant has caused smaller spikes internationally unlike the delta variant. Therefore, despite high transmissibility, we cannot predict if it’s going to be as deadly as the delta variant.
Do the vaccines work against it?
More studies are required to know about the Lambda variant effects on Covid-19 vaccines. However, as cases in South America rises, questions are being raised over the effectiveness of the Chinese vaccines (which have been those deployed predominantly in the region).
Is there a difference in symptoms?
Since last year, there has been a high severity and mortality rate in Peru (the epicenter of the Lambda variant spread). However, it isn’t yet confirmed if the variant is responsible for it.
However, having said that, experts feel that it could be possible that the Lambda variant has a higher contagion rate. Hence, people should remain generally cautious about possible Covid-19 symptoms. This include high-grade fever, intense cough, body pain, breathlessness, and several others.
While there are probably several things we don’t know about the Lambda covid variant yet, the research done so far has shown that the variant is highly transmissible and lethal. Hence, people need to remain generally cautious about possible Covid-19 symptoms. Hopefully, the Lambda variant won’t become a variant of concern (VoC).