What is the lambda variant?
- The lambda variant was first detected in Peru in summer 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The variant has not spread too much in the United States so far.
- There have been cases in Texas.
Does lambda evade vaccines?
The study — which was not peer-reviewed but published on bioRxiv, which shares preliminary scientific reports — suggests the spike protein of the lambda variant is different than other COVID-19 variants, which makes it easier for lambda to latch onto cells and cause infection.
- The scientists reviewed the genetic sequence of the lambda variance and compared it to the spike protein of the original coronavirus mutation, according to News-Medical, which reviews studies and preliminary reports. The study found specific changes that make it easier for the variant to bind to cells.
- Specifically, the variant has two mutations within it that can make it evade vaccines, making it less likely that immunity could stop the spread of the virus.
More research on lambda vs. COVID-19 vaccine
The researchers, who worked at a lab in Japan, warned that the lambda variant should be considered a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization and not a “variant of interest,” which is its current ranking.
- “Lambda can be a potential threat to the human society,” Kei Sato, of the University of Tokyo, told Reuters
Will lambda spread fast?
Dr. Anna Durbin, a professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Newsweek the lambda variant will face a problem from spreading if enough people become immune to the delta variant.
- Lambda “is going to run into a problem here in the U.S. and that is the delta variant,” Durbin said.
- “These viruses are all competing with each other for advantage to be the one that survives,” Durbin told Newsweek. “We know that the lambda variant has some of the same mutations as the delta variant that we think (will) allow it to be more transmissible, so it would be difficult to outcompete the delta variant.”