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New Lambda Covid strain is worse than the existing “variants of concern” – say doctors

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The Lambda variant of coronavirus was first detected end of the last year in Peru, which has the world’s highest death rate per capita, and now accounts for nearly 82 per cent of the country’s cases.

And in June, the WHO listed it as a “variant of interest”.

In April and May this year, the variant accounted for four in every five cases in Peru, and a significant proportion in neighbouring Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador.

That would suggest its rate of transmission is higher than any other variant

said Professor Pablo Tsukayama from Peru’s Cayetano Heredia University.

By March, however, it accounted for about 50 percent of samples in Lima and now it’s about 80 percent.

That would suggest its rate of transmission is higher than other variants.

Of the UK’s eight cases, at least the first six were linked to foreign travel.

Australia’s first case was identified in June this year in a traveller who was forced to quarantine in a New South Wales hotel in April, national genomics database AusTrakka revealed.

Symptoms of the Lambda variant are similar to others, including fever, cough, and loss of smell and taste.

Are Vaccines Effective against new Lambda variant?

A team of researchers from the University of Chile stated over the weekend that the Lambda variant’s surface antigens had changed enough to escape antibodies produced in response to the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

Our data show for the first time that mutations present in the spike protein of the Lambda variant confer escape to neutralising antibodies and increased infectivity

The mutated, named L452Q, is similar to the L452R type found in the Delta and Epsilon variants. Delta variant has become the UK’s leading “variant of concern” in recent months, despite the lack of firm evidence Delta variant is more deadly than previously-identified strains.

Lambda has a unique pattern of seven mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells. Researchers are particularly intrigued by one mutation called L452Q, which is similar to the L452R mutation to contribute to the high infectiousness of the Delta variant

said Jeff Barrett from London’s COVID-19 Genomics Initiative at the Welcome Sanger Institute.

But a study published on Monday revealed that messenger RNA-type vaccines, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs, are still effective against the variant.

British health experts also backed that assessment, adding there was no indication Lambda was deadlier either.

There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective

But data from Peru showed a mortality rate from the new variant of nearly 600 per 100,000 or six percent — twice as high as the roughly three percent seen in other countries.

PHE has, however, declared Lambda a “variant under investigation”. The UK is relying on the success of its immunisation programme to prevent a third wave of infections from translating into a spike in hospitalisations and deaths as the final lockdown restrictions are lifted later this month.

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

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