The lambda variant may evade vaccines, spread fast, new paper says
The lambda variant of the coronavirus may be highly infectious and more resistant to COVID-19 vaccines than the original variant of the coronavirus, Reuters reports.
A new study — published online through bioRxiv but has not been peer reviewed — found that the lambda variant has three mutations to the spike protein that help it resist antibodies created by the COVID-19 vaccines
The study said that there were two additional mutations that make lambda even more infectious.
• So, all at once, the variant can spread fast and evade vaccines, according to the researchers, who worked in a lab in Japan.
The researchers warned that the lambda variant should be labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization and not a “variant of interest,” as it is now.
• The study said that people don’t see lambda as a huge threat right now because it is not labeled as a variant of concern, like the delta variant.
How dangerous is the lambda variant?
Per Reuters, it’s unclear if the lambda variant is more dangerous than the delta variant right now. But senior researcher Kei Sato, of the University of Tokyo, told Reuters that we should be concerned about the variant.
• “Lambda can be a potential threat to the human society,” he said.
Indeed, the variant is behind 1,000 different cases in the United States right now, according to Newsweek. The variant was original discovered in Peru in August 2020 where it became the dominant strain of the virus. It has since spread to 29 different countries.
Dr. S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic biology at Houston Methodist, told USA Today that the lambda variant might not be as concerning at the delta variant.
• “I know there’s great interest in lambda, but I think people really need to be focused on delta,” Long said. “Most importantly, regardless of the variant, our best defense against all these variants is vaccination.