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Lambda Variant of SARS-CoV-2

Published on Aug 12, 2021   -  5 min read


With the whole world implementing various measures to control the disease spread, the newly evolving SARS-CoV-2 variants are an added challenge. Below are some facts regarding the Lambda variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Lambda Variant of SARS-CoV-2


As a result of various disease control methods carried out by the governing authorities worldwide, fluctuations in the COVID-19 cases are evident from time to time. Though we still have not eradicated the coronavirus, the arrival of vaccines has significantly decreased the morbidity and mortality rates.

But the novel coronavirus mutation (changing forms) tendencies pose a great challenge to the COVID vaccines. They are continuously mutating erratically, and as of now, the experts have identified multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Also, it is found that the more variants or strains they mutate into, the more contagious they become. The latest Lambda variant is of increased virulence and contagiousness compared to the original coronavirus.

Currently, How Many Variants of Coronavirus Exist?

Coronavirus variants are classified into three categories based on their impact on disease spread and treatment efficacy. They are,

  1. Escape the immune response, diagnosis, and therapy.

  2. Increase the transmission rates affecting global public health.

  3. Cause significant community transmission.

This is due to the genetic changes of the virus.

Presently, four identified SARS-CoV-2 strains belong to the variant of concern category affecting different parts of the world. They are,

According to WHO, the Lambda variant is a “variant of interest.” CDC does not have a place for Lambda variants in any of its variant categories. The Government of the United Kingdom has assigned this variant in “variant under investigation.”

Is the Lambda Variant of SARS-CoV-2 Worrisome?

The Lambda variant of coronavirus comes under the category of variants of interest, meaning they are believed to be less problematic than variants of concern like the Delta variant. But it is not conclusive as studies are under progress, which could change with time, based on the transmission rate and infectivity.

Why Lambda Variant Can or Cannot Be Worse?

While the increased virulence and transmissibility rates of other variants like Alpha, Delta, etc., are proven and evident, the Lambda variant still has mixed results. While it was considered as a new threat to global public health with increased disease potential, scientists, on the other hand, are noticing a drop in the percentage of new Lambda cases. They believe that the variant is in the waning phase.

According to some infectious disease experts, the Lambda variants were not appearing to cause increased disease transmissibility. Also, vaccines were found effective to an extent against these variants. However, based on the lab studies, these viruses have mutations that are resistant to the vaccine-induced antibodies.

Experts are still analyzing the contagiousness of Lambda variants. The two mutations T761 and L452Q, in the Lambda variant, make them more infectious. It is still inconclusive whether this variant is more deadly than the Delta variant.

What Do Studies on Lambda Variant Conclude?

Based on the lab research conducted by the researchers of the University of Tokyo, this variant has the potential to escape vaccine-induced antibodies due to the mutation RSYLTPGD246-253N. This is a unique 7-amino-acid deletion mutation in the N-terminal domain of the Lambda spike protein. Due to such results, experts want this variant of interest to be categorized under variants of concern to bring about worldwide attention regarding its tendencies for massive spread and vaccine resistance.

Initially, when the variant was identified, it was given less attention, but researchers warn about the potential threat it could cause to global public health with present studies. Though the rate of new cases might be appearing to decline, it is still under investigation.

How Concerning Is the Lambda Variant of SARS-CoV-2?

All newer variants of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus are a matter of concern. The continuous mutations they undergo increase their ability to easily infect an individual, causing intense symptoms and spreading fast. They also tend to escape the vaccine effect. Though the Lambda variant was of little concern, in the beginning, the rates at which they are infecting the people of Peru and South America have raised a global level of concern.

The lack of peer-reviewed findings in the present scenario should not be a reason to misjudge the serious effects that the Lambda variant could cause.

Are Vaccines Effective Against Lambda and Other Newer Variants?

Lambda and other deadly variants like the Delta evade the neutralizing antibodies due to their unique mutations. They resist the vaccine effect to some extent. Even in people who have completed their double vaccine shots, these newer variants are known to cause breakthrough infections.

However, vaccination dramatically reduces the need for hospitalizations and decreases the complications and deaths due to COVID. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been found to resist the Lambda variant significantly.


With only a handful of ongoing research and limited knowledge on the Lambda variant, researchers are still learning about it. More conclusive results need more time to keenly analyze and study how bad the Lambda variant could affect humankind. Whether or not the Lambda variant is a variant of interest or concern is primely under study. Until then, vaccines, masks, social distancing, and hand sanitation are the helping hand.

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12 Aug 2021  -  5 min read




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