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Lambda variant- how dangerous is the coronavirus strain?

The lambda variant is another coronavirus strain that is making its way around the globe.

According to a report from the World Health Organisation, it has been found in 29 countries so far and some cases have been confirmed in the UK.

However, should we be worried about the spread of this variant and is it any more dangerous than current strains?

Tara Hurst, Lecturer of Biomedical Science at Birmingham City University wrote an article for The Conversation explaining all you need to know about the strain.

What is the lambda variant and how many cases are there in the UK?

According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, the Lambda variant has been found in 29 countries and is thought to have originated in Peru.

The report states: “Lambda has been associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries, with rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased COVID-19 incidence.”

On June 14 2021, WHO declared lambda a “global variant of interest”. Public Health England followed suit on June 23, designating it a “variant under investigation” because of its “international expansion and several notable mutations”.

Eight cases have been confirmed in the UK- most of which have been linked to overseas travel.

Is the variant more dangerous than others?

A variant of interest is one that has mutations that are predicted or known to affect things such as transmissibility (how easily the virus spreads), severity of disease, ability to evade immunity from past infections or vaccines, or confound diagnostic tests.

Many scientists say lambda’s “unusual combination” of mutations may make it more transmissible.

However, there is very little evidence that these mutations make lambda more dangerous than the original coronavirus.

There are no published studies on the lambda variant and just a handful of preprints – papers that have yet to be subject to the scrutiny of other scientists (peer review) and published in a journal.

A preprint from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine looked at the effect of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against the lambda variant.

The researchers conclude that these mRNA vaccines will probably remain protective against the lambda variant.

According to PHE’s latest “risk assessment” (July 8) of lambda, there is no evidence of a country where lambda has outcompeted the delta variant.

Studies are ongoing, but for now, lambda remains a variant of interest rather than a variant of concern.

Article published from The Conversation.

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