Published: 09th July 2021
What The FAQ: What is the Lambda variant and should India be concerned about the new COVID strain?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the Lambda variant, which is the seventh COVID-19 variant that has been classified as a 'Variant of Interest'
The world has a new COVID variant to contend with. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the Lambda variant, which is the seventh COVID-19 variant as a 'Variant of Interest'. Should India be concerned about the Lambda variant and are there any cases in the country right now? We find out:
What is the Lambda variant?
The variant, which was known earlier as C.37, originated in Peru as early as December 2020. Some studies suggest that it may have originated earlier in August 2020. This is the seventh variant of SARS-CoV-2 that has been called a 'Variant of Interest', while Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants were classified as 'Variant of Concern'.
Where has the variant spread to?
While it originated in Peru and accounts for at least 80 per cent of the COVID infections in the country, the variant has also been a dominant strain in Chile. For most of last year, it was confined to South America, but it spread to other countries, including the UK, in July. Currently, it has spread to over 25 countries across the world.
How concerning is the Lambda variant?
The second wave of COVID-19 was caused by the Indian-origin Delta variant and it has now spread in over 100 countries. The variant had three mutations, which resulted in increased transmissibility and low resistance to antibodies. But seven mutations of the Lambda variant have been discovered till now. Experts predict that the variant could further prove resistant to antibodies that might have been developed due to vaccination or contracting the disease. It might also become increasingly transmissible. According to a study conducted in Chile, China's Sinovac has proved less effective against the Lambda variant.
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Should India be worried?
India is still reeling from the devastating second wave and any virus that can decrease the effectiveness of the vaccines and the antibodies developed due to it can prove concerning. While no Asian countries, except Israel, have reported infections due to the Lambda variant, it has been detected in several European countries from where people are traveling to India regularly.