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Lambda Variant of SARS-CoV-2

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Lambda Variant of SARS-CoV-2

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With the whole world implementing various measures to control the disease spread, the newly evolving SARS-CoV-2 variants are an added challenge.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sugreev Singh

Published At August 12, 2021
Reviewed AtMarch 2, 2023

Introduction:

As a result of various disease control methods carried out by the governing authorities worldwide, fluctuations in COVID-19 cases are evident from time to time. Though the coronavirus has not been eradicated yet, but 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 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 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,

Variants of Interest -Coronavirus variants predicted or suspected to,

  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.

Variants of Concern - Coronavirus variants with increased transmission rates and virulence causing decreased effectiveness against disease control measures like diagnosis, therapy, and vaccination and leading to an altered clinical presentation of the disease are categorized as variants of concern.

Variants of High Consequence - These variants significantly cause reduced effectiveness of disease control and prevention methods compared to their previous variants. Still, such variants have not been identified as of now.

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

  • Alpha (B.1.1.7) Variant - This is the first variant of the coronavirus. It was first identified in the United Kingdom.

  • Beta (B.1.351) Variant - This is the second coronavirus variant. It was first identified in South Africa.

  • Gamma (P.1) Variant - This third variant of coronavirus was first identified in Japan and Brazil.

  • Delta (B.1.617.2) Variant - The delta variant was first identified in India.

  • Delta Plus (B.1.617.2.1) Variant - It was first identified in Europe, but it is thought to have originated in India. Though WHO (world health organization) and CDC (centers for disease control and prevention) have not considered it a variant of concern due to lacking clarity, India has categorized it as a variant of concern.

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 a “variant under investigation.”

  • Lambda (C.37) Variant - The Lambda variant was first identified in Peru in December 2020.

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.

  • Some Quick Facts on the Lambda Variant:

  • The first case of the Lambda variant was reported in Peru in December 2020.

  • It was named on June 14th, 2021, by WHO (world health organization).

  • It is a variant of interest.

  • Though the Lambda variant is a variant of interest, they are more transmissible than the original coronavirus.

  • They have also been found to resist the vaccine effect to some extent.

  • Experts are still studying their virulence and transmission rates and how well vaccines work against the Lambda variants. Hence it is not conclusive whether Lambda variants are potentially lethal as Delta variants or not.

  • Since its identification, it has been spreading to various parts of the world, like Australia, South America, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and more recently in Japan.

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 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 laboratory studies, these viruses have mutations resistant to 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. Whether this variant is more deadly than the Delta variant is still inconclusive.

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 warned about the potential threat it could cause to global public health with present studies. Though the rate of new cases might appear 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.

Conclusion:

With only a handful of ongoing research and limited knowledge of the Lambda variant, researchers are still learning about it. More conclusive results need more time to keenly analyze and study how badly 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 helping.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Is Lambda a Stronger Variant than Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2?

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the Lambda variant of SARS-CoV-2 as a "variant of interest" because of the possible effects it may have on the health of the general public. The available data indicate that the Lambda variant may be more infectious than the Delta variant and has a greater likelihood of resisting the protection provided by the available vaccines.

2.

Which Covid Variant Is Less Severe?

According to the latest reports, Omicron is a less severe variant of SARS-CoV-2. However, the recent Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, (also known as B.1.1.529), has not been found since 2021. 1.1, XBB, and XBB. 1, all of which are derived from Omicron, are dodging both vaccination- and infection-induced immunity. Similar to earlier Omicron variants, these new variants all feature mutations in the area that attach to cells and spread infection, making them very contagious but less severe than other variants.

3.

Is the Lambda Variant Vaccine Resistant?

The Lambda variant of SARS-CoV-2 could be more infectious and vaccine-resistant, according to limited studies. Researchers conclude that the lambda COVID-19 variant is not only more contagious than the common SARS-CoV-2, but it may also be resistant to vaccination. Lambda variant is also classified as one of the variants of interest according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

4.

What Are the Main SARS-CoV-2 Variants?

Sorting the emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants into variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs) has been done independently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The ability to elude detection, an increase in transmissibility or virulence, a reduction in neutralization by antibodies acquired from natural infection or vaccination, or a decrease in the efficiency of treatments or vaccinations are all linked to VOCs. Among the different variants of concern are alpha, beta, gamma, Delta, and omicron. The WHO has identified eight variations of interest since the start of the pandemic: Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, and Mu.

5.

What Vaccine Is Effective Against the Lambda Variant?

In August 2020, Peru reported the first detection of the lambda variant, which has since spread to 29 other nations. Its spike protein contained seven mutations that made it more contagious and resistant to vaccinations. However, researchers discovered that mRNA vaccines, such as Moderna, are effective against the Lambda variant.

6.

Which Covid Variant Has the Mildest Effect?

Compared to other variants, Omicron BA.5 is more likely to result in less severe illness.  According to reports, Omicron BA.5 infected people were not more likely to be hospitalized or develop severe disease, and BA.5 appears to be requiring fewer hospitalizations. However, it is classified as one of the variants of concern by WHO.

7.

What COVID-19 Variant Is the Most Potent?

The most potent SARS-CoV-2 variations are reported to be two omicron variants, namely BA.5 and BA.2. These variants can more firmly attach to the target host receptor. This increases its ability to spread and makes it more contagious. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified it as the most contagious variant reported.

8.

Is the Omicron BA.2 Sub Variant More Severe Than Omicron BA.5?

The Omicron variants of Covid, according to WHO, can cause life-threatening infection in those who have not received a vaccination, those who are elderly, or have underlying medical issues. Overall weekly adult hospitalization rates peaked at 38.4 per 100,000 during the Omicron-predominant phase. According to reports, Omicron BA.2 sub variants are indeed more harmful than Omicron BA.5. Compared to other variants, Omicron BA. 5 is more likely to result in less serious sickness.

9.

Do COVID Vaccinations Offer Protection Against Variants?

The COVID-19 vaccines protect people from serious illness caused by both the original strain of the virus and its variants. The COVID-19 vaccine is somewhat effective against the Beta, Gamma, and Delta strains while being very effective against the Alpha variant. Greater protection against the Delta and Omicron strains comes from booster immunization. In addition, people who have had COVID-19 may benefit from further protection from COVID-19 immunizations, such as protection from being hospitalized for subsequent infection.

10.

What Does a SARS-CoV-2 Positive Test Result Mean?

People who exhibit symptoms or signs that are consistent with COVID-19 will test positive for the virus, according to test findings. It means that anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM, IgG, or both were found in the specimen of the person who underwent testing. Furthermore, a positive antibody test, also known as a serology test result, however, may indicate a history of COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 infection.

11.

Do Any COVID Variants Have Vaccine Resistance?

Recent research has shown the existence of mutations that are resistant to vaccines. According to new data, the most recent COVID-19 variants can avoid vaccination protection. According to recent laboratory findings, certain novel COVID-19 mutations may not be sufficiently protected against by vaccinations and prior infections. However, it is shown that patients who received two immunization doses with a booster shot were able to quickly increase their immune response and neutralization response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other originally apparent viral variants.

12.

What Does the Acronym SARS-CoV-2 Mean?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is an acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 2. A “coronavirus linked to SARS” is the source of the viral respiratory disease known as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). SARS was initially discovered around the end of February 2003 when an outbreak emerged in China and quickly spread to four countries. The nomenclature of SARS-CoV-2 is derived from a naturally occurring progression of the taxonomic classification of viruses in the SARS species.

13.

Omicron or Delta SARS-CoV-2 Variants?

Both delta and Omicron are variants of SARS-CoV-2. The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant (B. 1.617. 2) first appeared during the second wave of infections in India. Delta variations have become increasingly common worldwide and are continually spreading. Worldwide transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron strain started in late November 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified this variety, which is a severely modified virus, as a variant of concern.

14.

How Does a COVID Cough Feel?

About half of all COVID-19-infected people cough. The cough is dry and persistent, which is not surprising given that COVID-19 irritates lung tissue. Most COVID-19 patients have a dry cough, often referred to as an unproductive cough, that they can feel in their chest, while some may also have a cough that produces phlegm (thick mucus). The most common symptoms of a dry cough are tickling in the throat or lung irritation.

15.

Will COVID Continue to Get Milder?

There is no evidence to indicate that COVID would get milder. Therefore, in a nutshell, no, for an answer. Almost 1.1 million individuals were killed by Covid-19 in 2022, making it a still-fatal disease with the variants, which increase to such high levels in the lungs as they have been connected to higher rates of hospitalization and mortality. Currently, COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency of concern to the worldwide community; instead, it is a recognized and ongoing health problem.
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Dr. Sugreev Singh
Dr. Sugreev Singh

Internal Medicine

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