Lambda — the new coronavirus variant puzzling scientists due to its ‘unusual mutations’
Lamba, the latest coronavirus variant that has captured the interest of the World Health Organisation, has left scientists scratching their heads over its “unusual” set of mutations, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
The strain was first detected in Peru and has since spread to 27 countries including the UK. It was initially denoted as C.37.
Public Health England said it detected six cases of the variant between February 23 and June 7 — of whom five had travelled overseas, according to Reuters.
A doctor in molecular biology in Peru’s Cayetano Heredia university, Pablo Tsukayama said that when the variant first caught the attention of medics in December, it accounted for “just one in every 200 samples”.
“By March, however, it accounted for about 50% of samples in Lima and now it’s about 80%. That would suggest its rate of transmission is higher than other variants,” he said.
FT, citing WHO, reported that Lambda “accounted for 82% of new COVID-19 cases in May and June in Peru, which has the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rate”.
Neighbouring Chile has not been spared its devastating effects either, as it accounts for nearly a third of new cases there.
Is it more transmissible than other variants?
Scientists have yet to rule, however, whether the mutations in Lamba make it more transmissible.