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Lambda Variant of Covid-19

Lambda Variant of Covid-19

Why in news?

  • After the cases of Delta Variant of Covid-19 continuously rising, a new variant called Lambda Variant (LV) is emerging as a new threat.
  • Lambda Variant is dominant in Peru, India has not yet reported any case of LV.

About Lambda variant

  • Lambda variant has been rampant in Peru where 81% of COVID-19 cases since April 2021 were associated with this variant.
  • In Chile, the Lambda variant was detected in 32% of all the submitted sequences in the last 60 days and has been outclassed only by the Gamma variant which was first identified in Brazil.
  • Since the end of March, this variant has been detected in more than 25 countries, although the numbers are still very small.
  • The UK, for example, said it had found this variant in six infected people, all international travellers.
  • Recently, it has also been found in Australia.

What is the difference between ‘Variant of Interest’ and ‘Variant of Concern’?

  • The Variant of Interest, unlike the Variant of Concern that has previously made headlines in the newspapers worldwide, are monitored by the health organizations but are not proved yet to be significant threats to the general public health.
  • On the other hand, Variant of Concern is the one that has been identified as a major threat with a capability of spreading at a faster pace and infecting a large number of people.
  • The most recent example is the Delta variant which was first identified in India. It was first labeled as the ‘Variant of Interest’ until May 11, 2021, however, its rapid spread around the world prompted the World Health Organisation to classify it as a ‘Variant of Concern’.


  • LV has at least seven significant mutations in the spike protein (the Delta variant has three) which could have a range of implications, including the possibility of increased transmissibility or enhanced resistance to antibodies, created either through natural infection or vaccination.
  • It is the coronavirus spike protein that binds to a human protein to initiate the process of infection.
  • The LV has greater infectivity than the Alpha and Gamma variants (known to have originated in the UK and Brazil respectively).                    Lambda Variant of Covid-19
  • A study also reported decreased effectiveness of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine (Coronavac) against the Lambda variant.

What causes a virus to change to a new variant?

  • When a virus is widely circulating in a population and causing many infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases.
  • The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more it replicates – and the more opportunities it has to undergo changes.                          Lambda Variant of Covid-19
  • Most viral mutations have little to no impact on the virus’s ability to cause infections and disease.
  • But depending on where the changes are located in the virus’s genetic material, they may affect a virus’s properties, such as transmission (for example, it may spread more or less easily) or severity (for example, it may cause more or less severe disease).

Way Forward

  • India, which is still recovering from the debilitating second wave, would need to proactively watch out for, and prevent the spread of any new variant that could trigger a fresh wave.
  • We need a foundation of broad-based research, in universities, medical colleges and biotechnology companies, all of which must be funded, encouraged, appreciated, and talent rewarded.


Mussoorie Times

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