What You Need To Know About The Lambda COVID-19 Variant

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought endless worry and despair over the last year and a half, and it's looking like it's not easing up any time soon. Updated news regarding the virus is constantly being released, but the virus itself is simultaneously mutating into new variants. The delta COVID-19 variant, for example, is making headlines en masse, and now researchers are worried about the lambda COVID-19 variant.

Because the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the entire globe, its variants are popping up in places around the world. The lambda variant, for instance, was first found in Peru, per the New York Post, and it brings with it several questions. As the world increases its vaccination rates, how will these variants play out? Will they be stoppable by the vaccines, or will they be resistant to the various jabs? It may be too early to tell at present, but researchers are worried as variants such as delta and lambda become more dominant within active COVID-19 cases. In fact, the lambda variant has been responsible for 81% of Peru's new COVID-19 cases since April 2021, according to the New York Post.

The lambda variant has, as of publication, made its way to at least 30 countries outside of Peru, including not only a slew of South American nations, but also the United Kingdom. 

The lambda variant has become one 'of interest' to the World Health Organization

The lambda COVID-19 variant is scientifically known as C.37, and it's currently responsible for Peru experiencing the highest coronavirus mortality rate of any nation (via the New York Post). According to Independent, the lambda variant became "a variant of interest" for the World Health Organization in mid-June 2021, but it's been detected in COVID-19 samples as early as December 2020. Over the six months between being detectable and becoming "a variant of interest," the lambda variant has become the predominant strain of coronavirus in places such as Peru, making it a priority to be studied.

The lambda variant is unique because of its mutated spike proteins, which are what allow the virus to attach to the cells (via Independent). In short, the stronger the spikes are, the more likely you are to get infected. However, hope is not all lost. On this variant, Public Health England stated, "There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective." Still, while this variant may not cause worse infection, it may be more infectious and get more people sick quicker. The current lambda variant research suggests that it is more infectious than its alpha and gamma counterparts, which are the strains prevalent in the United Kingdom and Brazil, respectively.  

While the lambda variant has spread to the United Kingdom, only eight COVID-19 cases in the nation have been confirmed as this variant as of publication (via Independent).