FAQ | Is the New Lambda COVID Variant More Dangerous Than Others?

UK's Public Health England is monitoring the Lambda variant, and has listed it as a Variants Under Investigation.

3 min read
FAQ | Is the New Lambda COVID  Variant More Dangerous Than Others?

UK's health body, Public Health England (PHE) has flagged a new COVID-19 variant, C.37, named Lambda variant.

UK's health ministry, in a tweet, on Monday, 5 July, said that the variant likely originated in Peru, the country that also has the highest COVID related mortality rate.

Lambda variant has now been detected in over 30 countries in the last few weeks reported ANI.

What do we know about the Lambda variant? Has it been detected in India yet? FIT answers your FAQs.


Where was the variant first detected?

The lambda variant was detected under internation variant horizon scanning by Public Health England.

The variant is said to have originated in Peru and likely been around since August 2020 according to PHE.

The variant now accounts for more than 82 percent of the COVID cases in the country in May and June reported ANI.

What do we know about the Lambda variant's mutations?

The lambda variant involves a combination of multiple mutations.

According to PHE, it is characterised by mutations in the spike protein, including G75V, T76I, del247/253, L452Q, F490S, D614G and T859N.

They further added that more research is needed to understand the real world impact of these mutations.

Is the Lambda variant more dangerous than previous mutations of SARS-CoV-2?

A preprint study released on 1 July points to the variant being more infectious than the Alpha (B.1.1.7), the Gamma (P.1) and the D614G mutations.

The study also found that the lambda variant also shows an increased immune escape from neutralising antibodies as compared to the Alpha and Gamma variants.

This means the COVID vaccines currently in use could potentially be less affective against this variant. Determining this, however, will require further research.

"There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective,"
Public Health England, quoted by The Independant

What about the Delta variant?

The Lambda variant is still under investigation and according to the PHE, it is too soon to say if the variant is in fact more infectious or resistant to the vaccines than other mutations.

Renouned American scientist Eric Feigl-Ding on Tuesday, 6 July, tweeted that as of now, the Delta variant is still a bigger threat than the Lambda variant.

Is it a variant of concern?

Not yet. The Lambda variant was assigned the status of variant of interest by the WHO on 14 June.

It was also listed as a VUI (variant under investigation) by the UK government on 21 June.

Which countries have detected the variant so far?

The variant has so far been detected in 31 countries including Peru, UK, USA, Chile, Australia, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Mexico, Colombia, Isreal, Portugal, Denmark, France, Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Aruba, Czech Republic, Curacao, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Poland, Uruguay

Have any cases of the Lambda variant have been detected in India so far?

No, no cases of the lambda variant have been detected in India so far.

India, however is still reeling from the impact of the second wave driven by the Delta Variant which has is now the primary variant of concern being the spike in cases in other countries including the UK and the US.

(Written with inputs from the ANI and the Independant.)

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