While health personnel continue the battle the surge in coronavirus cases from the Delta variant, medical experts are now confirming that the Lambda variant has arrived in US territory. According to researchers, the SARS-CoV-2 mutation has had rapid spread throughout a network of countries mostly in South America. This makes it more infectious than previous variants, at least in this context.
Houston Methodist officials have reported their index Lambda COVID-19 infection at the end of July. The Lambda variant was first identified by scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the organization’s officers described it as being of “interest” and not of “concern.”
Data from the GISAID Initiative indicates that there could be more than 900 domestic cases of the Lambda variant-induced COVID-19 cases. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is yet to make public any information on the transmission of the said variant.
As expected, experts and policy makers are looking into how the Lambda variant is interacting with vaccines. A preprint Japanese study reveals that the Lambda variant may have the ability to get past COVID-19 antibodies, neutralizing them in the process. The distinct “spike” protein structure of the Lambda variant differs significantly from earlier strains of the virus. Therefore, it continues to challenge the immunity of already sick people. The protein structure is also important in impacting vaccinated individuals.
Research by Chilean experts mirrors these findings. The Chilean group wants health officials to look at tracking subsequent changes in the Lambda strain to ascertain the impact of the mutations on currently available COVID-19 vaccines.
The Delta and Lambda variants share a common resistance to antibodies, however, researchers on both the US and Chilean studies are mute on if the variant is more infectious than the Delta. Yet, the big question remains: how exactly did the variant mutate, and what are its maximum virological abilities.