New virus strain, Lambda Variant found in 29 countries, says WHO

After the Delta variant, another new variant of COVID-19 named ‘Lambda’ with elevated presence in South America has been identified. The Lambda variant has so far been detected in 29 countries, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. The lambda variant has been detected by scientists in the region, including in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina, thanks to increased genomic surveillance.

According to WHO’s weekly update, the Lambda variant has been a cause of 81% of cases in Peru since April 2021, while 32% of submitted sequences detected the virus in Chile.  According to a report by Xinhua news agency citing World Health Organization officials, the Lambda Covid-19 variant has been dubbed a global ‘variant of interest’ due to its elevated presence in South America. The WHO reported that the Lambda lineage carries mutations that might increase transmissibility or strengthen the virus’s resistance to antibodies. However, evidence is too limited for the moment, the Geneva-based organization said, and more studies are required to understand better the Lambda variant. The lambda variant has multiple mutations in the spike protein that could have an impact on its transmissibility, but more studies are needed to fully understand the mutations. Variants of Interest, unlike Variants of Concern that have made headlines in newspapers worldwide, are monitored by health organizations but are not proved yet to be significant threats to public health.