'Lambda' Covid-19 strain: WHO finds new 'variant of interest' in South America
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced earlier this week that 'Lambda', a new variant of interest of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), has been found in Peru. The new Covid-19 variant, which was first detected in August last year, accounts for around 81% of the cases reported since April in the country, according to WHO. Moreover, the Lambda Covid-19 variant is now prevalent in as many as 29 countries, most notably in South America where it is believed to have originated.
According to a report by Xinhua news agency citing World Health Organization officials, the Lambda Covid-19 variant has been dubbed a global 'variant of interest' due to its elevated presence in South America.
The variant was also reported in countries like Chile, where it accounts for 32% of all submitted sequences in the preceding 60 days. The Lambda variant was also reported in neighbouring countries in South America, such as Argentina and Ecuador. WHO suspects mutations present in the Lambda Covid-19 variant might show increased transmission and resistance to antibodies.
Meanwhile, the Delta Covid-19 variant, first identified in India, was classified as a "variant of concern" by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this week. Previously, the Delhi Covid-19 strain was only considered a "variant of interest" by the US CDC, but its status was changed to a "variant of concern" after assessing the Delta variant's high transmissibility, among other factors. Along with the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) of Covid-19, a few other variants circulating in the United States have also been classified as 'variants of concern', a CDC statement published on Tuesday read. These include the B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), B.1.427 (Epsilon), and B.1.429 (Epsilon) Covid-19 variants.
The Delta variant, which was dubbed a 'variant of concern' by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 10, accounts for around 9.9% of all Covid-19 cases in the United States, the CDC estimates. However, to date, no variants of high consequence have been identified in the country, the public health body explained in its statement.