Variants remain the sole drivers of the UK’s increasingly deadly Covid epidemic, powering tens of thousands of cases a day and killing more people despite the vaccine’s ability to weaken death rates. The Delta strain is the latest to assume dominance, with cases surging over the last two months. Now the Lambda variant, which scientists first discovered in Peru, is the latest to elude health officials with a range of “unusual” mutations.
How does the Lambda variant differ from Delta?
Despite its comparatively limited presence, Lambda appeared around roughly the same time as Delta.
Health authorities detected it for the first time in Peru in late 2020, and it has since spread to 27 other nations.
Mercifully, the concentration of cases is presently low, but that could rapidly change.
Over the last two months, Lambda has caused 82 percent of Peru’s new Covid cases.
And one early study from the University of Chile has found mutations in its spike protein enhance its ability to infect and work around the immune system.
The paper is yet to be peer-reviewed, but found mutations “confer increased infectivity and immune escape”.
Researchers added these mutations allowed it to escape bodily defences afforded by China’s CoronaVac vaccine.
The University of Chile researchers acknowledged the need for further analysis in their paper.
They concluded countries with effective Covid vaccination programmes should also conduct “strict genomic surveillance”.
Such surveillance is currently missing in Latin American nations, which are, on average, less equipped for investigation.
As such, there is not yet a complete picture of the extent of Lambda’s presence on the continent.