While the world reels under the effects of the Delta variant, a new Covid-19 mutation is now on the radar of several countries.
The Lambda variant, or C.37, believed to have originated from Peru, was designated as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) on June 14. A variant of interest categorization is a level below the “variant of concern.”
There are currently four variants of interest, which are characterized by the presence of mutations that are associated with increased transmissibility, severity of disease, or the ability to evade immunity from vaccines or past infections. This does not mean that these variants have been yet confirmed to be more transmissible or to cause more severe infections—only that the genetic structure of the mutated virus points to the possibility of these happening. In addition to these criteria, variants of interest are also classified when there are known cases of community transmission or Covid-19 clusters.
Though the Delta variant, a variant of concern first detected in India and thus far believed to be the most transmissible and resilient variant of Covid-19, dominates most infections across the world, six cases of the Lambda variant have now been found in the UK, all linked to international travelers. There are no cases of the variant reported in India yet.