Lambda Variant Not Detected in India: Is It More Transmissible Than Delta?
The Lambda variant, which originated in Peru, has reportedly spread across over 25 countries.
The Lambda variant, first detected in Peru, is feared to be more transmissible than the Delta variant, which is still driving the rise of fresh COVID-19 infections across the world.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the Lambda as a 'variant of interest' on 14 June, it has now been detected in over 25 countries, warned the UK Department of Health and Social Care in a tweet on 5 July.
What is the Lambda variant? Does it spread faster than Delta? Here's what we know.
What is the Lambda variant?
The Lambda variant, also known as the C.37, lies within B.1.1.1 lineage. It was first detected in Peru in August 2020 and is responsible for over 81 percent of the cases detected in the country since April 2021.
Incidentally, by the end of May, Peru became the nation with highest mortality rate in the world.
Which countries has the Lambda spread to?
While it has mostly been detected in South America, the variant is now found in over 25 countries. It has significant presence in Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador.
It was also recently detected in the UK (six cases) and Australia. All the patients were international travellers.
Should India be worried?
No case of the Lambda variant has been detected in India yet. Neighbouring countries, which are reeling under the spread of the Delta variant, have not reported it either.
However, countries like France, Germany, UK, and Italy – which have a travel agreement with India – have reported this variant.
As India gears up to effect unlock procedures across states, it should watch out for any new variant, which could trigger a fresh wave of infections.
Is it more transmissible than the Delta variant?
We do not know yet. A recent study by researchers in Chile revealed that the variant had greater infectivity than the Alpha and the Gamma variants (first detected in the UK and Brazil, respectively).
The study also pointed a decreased effectiveness of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine against the Lambda variant.
Why is it classified as 'variant of interest'?
The Lambda variant being designated 'variant of interest' means that the genetic changes involved are predicted or known to affect transmissibility, disease severity, or immune escape, reported The Indian Express.
This also means that the Lambda variant has spread significantly through community transmission and across various demographics.
Which are the other variants to watch out for?
The variants to watch out for include B.1.617.3, a relative of the Delta variant; B.11.318, which has 14 mutations; and Kappa or B.1.617.1.
According to experts, the Kappa variant or the double-mutant strain of the virus, has raised red flags and led to widespread gene surveillance to look for its prevalence and spread.
Meanwhile, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta – have been designated as 'variants of concern', as they pose a bigger threat.
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