New Lambda Covid variant has caught the attention of health authorities

As South Africa continues to battle a Delta variant of the coronavirus sweeping across the country, a ‘Lambda’ variant has gained the attention of health experts.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has added the ‘Lambda’ variant, also known as C.37, as the seventh and newest “variant of interest”. It was first detected in Peru in December 2020, and is related to 81% of its cases since April.

Peru currently has the highest Covid mortality rate globally, in relation to the size of its population.

The latest strain has reportedly spread to around 30 countries, including the UK, but is mostly contained to Latin America. To date, there is no evidence to show that this variant has been detected in South Africa.

“Lambda carries a number of mutations with suspected phenotypic implications, such as a potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies,” the WHO said.

“There is currently limited evidence on the full extent of the impact associated with these genomic changes, and further robust studies into the phenotypic impacts are needed to better understand the impact on countermeasures and to control the spread. Further studies are also required to validate the continued effectiveness of vaccines,” it said.

South Africa meanwhile, recorded 15,501 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, which represents a 26.2% positivity rate.

Read: Unions warn that schools are not ready to reopen in South Africa: report

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New Lambda Covid variant has caught the attention of health authorities