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COVID-19 Lambda Variant, A New ‘Variant Of Interest’, WHO: Everything You Need To Know

Recently, the WHO has designated a new variant of the COVID-19 named Lambda as a "Variant of Interest" (VOI). While the world was still dealing with Delta COVID-19 variant, the arrival of Lambda variant has alarmed the world as it has been linked with community transmission in many countries.

There's more in the article about this new COVID-19 variant. Read on to know.

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What Is Lambda Variant?

The Lambda variant is classified as the new COVID-19 variant or say, a new mutation found in novel coronavirus. According to the WHO bulletin, this variant was first detected in Peru in August 2020 and since then, it has been reported in 29 nations worldwide, mainly in Latin America, including Argentina and Chile.

The WHO bulletin further reads, "On 14 June 2021, a variant assigned to Pango lineage C.37, GISAID clade GR/452Q.V1, NextStrain clade 20D, was designated as a global Variant of Interest, and assigned the WHO label Lambda." [1]

Currently, there is limited evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 Lambda variant on humans; however, a better understanding of its phenotypes or genetics can help control the spread.

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What Is A Variant Of Interest (VOI)?

A mutation is declared as VOI when its genome has mutations with established or suspected phenotypic implications or say, changes in the observable characteristics or traits of an organism, and either of the following: [2]

  • Has been identified to cause multiple COVID-19 cases, community transmission or detected in multiple countries.
  • Has been classified as a VOI by WHO in consultation with the WHO Virus Evolution Working Group.

Why Is Lambda A 'Variant Of Interest'?

Lambda is classified as a VOI due to its increased prevalence in South America, where it is believed to have originated.

Lambda variant is known to carry a number of mutations with a suspected phenotypic connection like potential increased transmissibility and increased resistance to neutralising antibodies. Also, it is associated with 'substantive rates of community transmission in many countries and increasing cases of COVID-19.

Additionally, the WHO bulletin read that according to the authorities in Peru, 81 per cent of the COVID-19 cases detected since April 2021 were linked to Lambda strain, followed by 37 per cent cases reported in Argentina since the third week of February 2021 and between April 2 and May 19, 2021.

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The prevalence of Lambda in Chile has increased over time accounting for 32 per cent of sequenced cases in the last two months. This rate is similar to co-circulating variant Gamma (33 per cent) and outcompeting variant Alpha (4 per cent) over the same time.

Specific Symptoms Of Lambda Variant

At present, there are no specific symptoms of the Lambda variant identified and the present symptoms of this variant are considered to be similar to most of the 'known' COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, loss of taste and smell and many others.

With an in-depth understanding of Lambda's phenotypes, we can well understand its symptoms in humans.

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Recommendation By WHO On Lambda Variant

According to the WHO, the COVID-19 virus evolution is expected to continue, and the more COVID-19 circulates, the more there are chances for it to evolve.

The WHO said, "Reducing transmission through established and proven disease control methods such as those outlined in the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, as well as avoiding introductions into animal populations, are fundamental to and crucial aspects of the global strategy to reduce the occurrence of mutations that have negative public health implications."

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To Conclude

Though millions of people in India and around the world have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the mutation of the virus with time is raising questions about whether it is enough to control the spread.

Scientists are still researching this new COVID-19 variant and what it holds for us regarding transmissibility and its impact on human health. Even though you are vaccinated, don't forget to wear a mask, maintain hand hygiene and keep physical distancing. Remember, all we can do is to follow the COVID appropriate safety norms and contribute to ending the pandemic.