Considering there are numerous variants of COVID-19, it can be difficult to keep up with the variants that are causing outbreaks worldwide. Here in Australia, the Lambda variant is hardly spoken about considering most of our outbreaks are from the Delta variant.
The Lambda variant, or C.37, was first identified in Peru as early as August 2020. It’s a dominant variant in Argentina, Chile, and Colombia, and has spread to around 30 countries. Lambda accounts for less than one percent of all infections worldwide, and 20 percent of all detected variants in South America.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated Lambda as a “variant of interest” – it is currently not considered a “variant of concern” like the Delta and Alpha strains. “Variant of interest” suggests the strain exhibits genetic changes suspected of affecting its transmissibility and disease severity, as well as being responsible for numerous clusters and significant community transmission.
What are its characteristics?
Lambda contains multiple mutations to the spike protein, meaning there are suspected implications and possible increased resistance to neutralising antibodies, according to the WHO. One specific mutation, F490S, has been linked with reduced susceptibility to antibodies generated in patients who had previously recovered from COVID-19. This means those who have tested positive for the original strain, their antibodies may not be as effective against the Lambda strain.
As it stands, the Lambda variant is not as concerning as the Delta variant.
However, It’s important to note there is not enough research and data available yet on the strain to understand the impact of the mutations of the variant.
Are there any Lambda cases in Australia?
There was one known case of the Lambda variant in Australia, back in April this year. The case, however, was in hotel quarantine in NSW and the variant did not spread into the community.