The new COVID-19 variant Lambda is spreading rapidly across South America and has appeared in California, USA. According to experts, the Lambda variant is more infectious and may be resistant to vaccines
Lambda – New variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus is more infectious and resistant to vaccines
Lambda, a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has appeared in California, USA. However, according to experts in the state, there is no need to worry because the Lambda variant is still very rare in the state. In California, currently, the dominant variant is still Delta.
California has recorded at least 152 cases of Lambda variant COVID-19, the first case detected in September 2020.
According to experts, Lambda is more infectious and resistant to vaccines than the original version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Although there is no evidence, at least for now, Lambda causes COVID-19 infections on par with the Delta variant. Currently, Delta is the dominant virus variant in California.
What is Lambda Variation?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Lambda variant, also known as C.37, was first discovered in Peru 1 year ago. Currently, the Lambda variant is spreading throughout South America.
The scientists say that because the Lambda variant has deletions of old genes and changes to new genes, it may be more infectious than the original version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and may have potential resistance to other viruses. current vaccines, although more research is needed.
Because of these new genetic markers, WHO in mid-June declared Lambda a variant of concern. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not do the same at that time, in part because there were so few cases of Lambda variant recorded in the US at the same time.
The Delta variant dominates COVID-19 infections in the US and is considered by both WHO and CDC to be a variant of concern because Delta is more infectious than the original version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Lambda made several headlines this summer in the US after the WHO noted the rapid spread of this variant in several South American countries including Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil. Since then, the Lambda variant has been discovered in 29 countries, including Germany, Spain, the UK, and the US.
While the WHO considers Lambda a variant of concern, the CDC and California’s public health agency have yet to do the same.
In late July, Houston Methodist Hospital reported its first Lambda variant. Japan in early August recorded the first case of Lambda variant, from a woman who returned from Peru on July 20.
More recently, 2 laboratory studies from Japan and Chile (not yet published to the outside) show that the Lambda variant can be more infectious and more difficult to resist with vaccines than the original version of the virus. SARS-CoV-2.
Therefore, the Japanese researchers consider that placing Lambda in the variant of concern is a bit low compared to its potential danger.
Lambda variant infection can only be identified through viral gene sequencing
Since September 2020, the Lambda variant has accounted for 152 COVID-19 infections in California, discovered after sequencing the virus’s genes. The first case was discovered in September last year. 10 more cases in March this year, 88 cases in April. Then, 43 cases in May; then 8 cases in June, and 2 cases of Lambda variant in July.
Both government and private laboratories testing for COVID-19 detect the virus variant by sequencing genes to find the variation in the viral protein.
Lambda variant infection rate in the community is much lower than Delta variant
However, not every COVID-19 infection has had the virus gene sequenced to determine if it is caused by the variant. Therefore, the actual number of COVID-19 cases due to the Lambda variant is higher than the published number. In the United States, only about 15/1000 cases of the virus have been sequenced.
At least, there have been 1,311 cases of Lambda variants detected through viral gene sequencing in 40 US states since the pandemic began. 18 cases of Lambda variant identified within the last 4 weeks. The above data are provided by the GISAID virus gene sequencing database. According to GISAID, only 1/10 of 1% of viral gene sequencing cases involve Lambda variants.
How dangerous is the Lambda variant compared to other variants?
Scientists think that the Lambda variant is less infectious than the Delta but more contagious than the original version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, it is still not clear how the genetic change of this new variant will affect COVID-19 infection in the community. Will it cause more severe symptoms or is it resistant to the vaccine? Thus, a few clues through experimentation were gradually revealed.
Chilean researchers tested antibodies in healthcare workers vaccinated with Sinovac and found that the vaccine was less effective against the Lambda variant than the original version of the virus.
Researchers at New York University tested the vaccine’s effectiveness on the Lambda variant and found that the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was less effective against the Lambda and Delta variants than the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. These studies are purely in the laboratory and have not been approved by a peer-reviewed panel.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, said that just because the vaccine is less effective in vitro does not mean that the vaccine does not protect against severe symptoms.
Nearly every hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in California and across the United States have occurred in unvaccinated people.
Should I be too worried about the Lambda variant?
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said that for now, there is no need to worry too much about the Lambda variant because it is not yet the mainstream variant in California and other states in the US.
So far, the Delta variant has completely overtaken other variants across the US. The Delta variant accounts for at least 86% of all sequenced COVID-19 infections and more than 94% of cases in the US.
“The Delta variant is spreading worldwide and is still the dominant variant compared to Lambda,” said Chin-Hong expert.