Months after the coronavirus broke into our lives, we have witnessed the arrival of the English variant (alpha) and the Indian (delta). While the world continues to grapple with the greater transmissibility of the latter, experts warn about another new variant: the lambda or “C.37” .
On June 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated it as a “variant of interest”, after verifying that the substantial rates of community transmission in multiple countries and the increasing prevalence over time coincided with the increase in the incidence of this variant.
Lambda has spread rapidly through 29 countries, territories or zones in five WHO regions , although it has a greater presence in Latin America. Especially in Peru, where 81% of Covid-19 cases sequenced since April were associated with the lambda variant. In addition, the first documented samples of the virus date from August 2020.
For its part, Argentina reported on the increasing prevalence of this variant in the third week of February 2021. Between April 2 and May 19, 2021, the variant represented 37% of the Covid-19 cases sequenced in the country.
Meanwhile, in Chile, the prevalence of lambda has increased over time, representing 32% of the sequenced cases reported in the last 60 days, as reported by the WHO. Apparently, this variant is co-circulating at rates similar to the gamma, although higher than those of the alpha variant in the same time period.
Still not a worrying variant
The WHO and other public health organizations are comparing this variant with other strains of the virus, to see if it could be more transmissible or more resistant to vaccines. Pending further studies, lambda is known to carry a number of mutations with presumed phenotypic implications, such as possible higher transmissibility or possible higher resistance to neutralizing antibodies .
Lambda has not been rated as a “worrying variant” at this time. , unlike alpha or delta mutations.
It is still unknown whether the vaccines available so far are effective in this new variant. However, as cases of infections related to the lambda variant increase in Latin America, questions are being raised about the efficacy of Chinese vaccines , the most widely used in the region. Some doubts that are aggravated by the lack of data on its protection against the delta variant, the most transmissible.
None of the currently available vaccines are considered 100% effective against Covid-19, but Chinese vaccines are the ones that have performed the worst in clinical trials so far.