Compared to all the attention that the Alpha and then Delta variants have received, Lambda has been relatively silent until now.
The lambda variant of the Covid-1
That’s hard to say right now. Much to learn about the Lambda variant there is, as Yoda would say. Currently, the Lambda variant, like your father, is wearing a one-legged cat suit that is way too tight for the first time. You can see some disturbing signs, but you can not quite see or find out everything that is going on yet.
The Lambda variant has been around for a while. It was first discovered in Peru back in August 2020 and has steadily grown in presence there. Eventually, the Lambda variant became the “alpha” or top dog of the Covid-19 coronavirus strains in Peru. Since April 2021, sequencing of Covid-19 coronavirus cases in the country has found the Lambda variant in over 80% of the samples. The Covid-19 pandemic has also hit Peru particularly hard. As of July 9, Peru has had a total of 2,074,186 reported Covid-19 cases, with 193,909 of them resulting in death, giving a mortality rate of 9.3% and 596.45 deaths per year. 100,000 people in the population, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. These numbers have made Peru number one globally in both categories. And in this case, it’s not good to be number one.
A WHO report of 15 June also noted an increased prevalence of the Lambda variant in several other South American countries, including Chile, Ecuador and Argentina. According to a Public Health England report, as of June 24, 2021, this variant has appeared in 525 samples from the United States, 87 in Germany, 86 in Argentina, 57 in Mexico, 43 in Spain, 19 in Israel, 15 in Colombia, 13 in France, eight in Egypt, seven in Switzerland, six in the United Kingdom, five in Italy, three in Brazil and three in Canada, as well as in single samples from the Netherlands, Aruba, Portugal, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Australia, Curacao and Zimbabwe.
This version of the virus, otherwise known as the C.37 variant, appeared on the WHO’s Variants of Interest (VOI) list on 14 June 2021 and joined other variants such as Eta, Iota and Kappa. These Greek names with letters may sound like fraternities or sororities, but if someone asks you to hurry up with the Lambda variant, it’s better to say, “get the heck out of me.” In this case, “interest” does not mean “oh, that would be cool” like a statue of Ariana Grande made of hot dogs. Instead, “interest” here means that public health officials should look at the variant very carefully because it can become a major threat. A VOI is a version of the virus that, in the words of the WHO, has “genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect viral characteristics such as transmissibility, severity of the disease, immune system, diagnostic or therapeutic escape”, and that it spreads so that it can be a “growing risk to global public health. ”
A VOI is a step below a VOC (Variant of Concern). The variants Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma have already made the VOC list. The Lambda variant does not currently qualify as a VOC because studies have not yet confirmed that it is more transmissible, causes worse disease, or is better able to get past Covid-19 vaccines or treatments than other versions of the virus.
The keywords here are “not yet confirmed.” There have just not been enough studies so far to draw any strong conclusions about the Lambda variant. The situation in Peru raises concerns that the Lambda variant may be more transmissible and more likely to result in poorer Covid-19 results. However, other factors may affect the spread of the virus and consequent deaths, such as access to health care and the presence or absence of control measures such as social distance and the use of a face mask. Therefore, Peru’s higher deaths may not be due solely to the properties of the virus. However, the proliferation of this variant to so many other countries provides more support for the possibility that it is actually more transferable.
Of course, every time a new variant occurs, a big question is how well available Covid-19 vaccines can protect against the variant. Early indications are that the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines may still offer good protection, as you can see in this tweet from Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine:
Hotez cited a pre-print that has been uploaded to bioRxiv website. This pre-print describes a study that took antibodies from the blood of people who had previously had Covid-19 or had received the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines and determined whether these antibodies were able to neutralize the Lambda variant of Covid -19-coronavirus. The not so good news is that the Lambda variant was able to infect cells more easily than the original version of the virus. The good news is that the antibodies seemed to neutralize the Lambda variant. This provided evidence that the currently available Covid-19 mRNA vaccines can offer good protection against the Lambda variant and that the Regeneron monoclonal antibody therapy cocktail will remain effective against this version.
Keep in mind, however, that a pre-print is not the same as a peer-reviewed publication in a respectable scientific journal. All you need to upload a pre-print is a computer, internet access and someone besides a hamster who has to press the right keys on the keyboard. Hamsters are not always good with keyboards because they can end up typing spies. They can also trade dogecoin if they have access to your computer. Several studies are needed to determine whether the Lambda variant is actually more transmissible and more likely to cause more severe Covid-19, and whether it can circumvent the protection offered by current Covid-19 vaccines.
Anyone who understands the science of coronavirus replications and mutations will understand that variants will be a persistent threat until enough people are vaccinated and publicity officials get the pandemic under control. Variations is not a “scare campaign”, as the following tweet suggests:
The media does not roll out these variants, it is viral replication that does this. Again, this is science. Continuing to overlook science will continue to expand the current situation:
The emergence and spread of the Lambda variant is a reminder that Covid-19 coronavirus will not remain the same. The virus is not like the adult who topped high school and still insists that brewing beer and giving people atomic wedges is cool. Instead, Covid-19 coronavirus is more like Madonna, as it continues to evolve and adapt over time. Like a drunk person trying to make photocopies of his or her ass every time the virus replicates or makes multiple copies of itself, it can make mistakes. These errors result in mutations in the genetic codes of the resulting copies of the virus. Such mutants are in fact new variants.
That is why it is so important to slow down the spread of the virus as much as possible, at least until enough people can be vaccinated to break the transmission chains. As long as Covid-19 coronavirus remains so widespread, unvaccinated humans can serve as “variant factories.” In other words, when you are not protecting yourself from the virus, your body functions like a cheap motel. The viruses can essentially say, “your body is a wonderland, I use my spiky proteins.” This is not exactly what John Mayer has been singing about because he is not a giant virus. But it’s close. Being vaccinated does not completely protect you from becoming infected, as the vaccine is not like an impenetrable concrete condo body. However, the vaccines offer very good protection and can make the virus say effectively, “Damn, baby, you are frustrating me.”
If you are not vaccinated, it is best to maintain other Covid-19 precautions such as wearing face masks and social distances. This will not only protect you but also protect the rest of society by slowing down the emergence of varieties. Not slowing down the emergence of variants can prolong the pandemic and bring us to a point where we have fewer and fewer Greek letters to name the new variants.