Lambda variant: Here’s what we know so far about the WHO’s new ‘variant of interest’
The new variant, C.37, appears to have originated in Peru back in December 2020, and now makes up over 80% of COVID-19 cases there.
While many people are increasingly becoming concerned with the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant, there is another emerging variant that is now worrying scientists and public health organizations all over the world. This variant of COVID-19 is known as lambda.
Here’s what you need to know about it:
- What is the lambda variant? It’s the latest variant of COVID-19. Early data suggests lambda may be more transmissible than other variants and may also be able to evade vaccines to a degree—though it’s important to note that none of these findings have been peer reviewed yet. In late June, the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled lambda a “variant of interest.”
- How is a “variant of interest” different from a “variant of concern?” SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has muted thousands of times already—but most of these mutations are harmless. A few, however, are not. These few, which are designated “variants of concern”—alpha, beta, gamma, and delta—have been shown to have mutations that make the strains of SARS-CoV-2 in question more dangerous to humans. Such danger includes increased mortality, increased transmissibility, or the ability to infect vaccinated people. A “variant of interest” on the other hand, is a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 that has been potentially shown to have at least one of the increased dangers that a variant of concern has. Variants of interest could go on to become variants of concern—but they might not.