A new variant of the coronavirus, named Lambda, has been classified as a 'global Variant of Interest' by the World Heath Organisation (WHO). Describing the variant, the WHO has said it was first identified in Peru, where 81 percent of COVID-19 cases since April 2021 were associated with this variant. Now, the same variant has also been identified in 29 countries and notably in South America where it is believed to have originated, it said.
In Chile, it was detected in 32 percent of all submitted sequences in the last 60 days, and only outclassed by the Gamma variant which was first identified in Brazil.
Other countries such as Argentina and Ecuador have also reported elevated prevalence of the new variant.
The Lambda lineage carries mutations that might increase transmissibility or strengthen the virus's resistance to antibodies, the WHO said in its report.
However, evidence is too limited for the moment, the Geneva-based organization said and more studies are required to understand better the Lambda variant.
COVID-19 Delta variant
Meanwhile, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said the COVID-19 Delta variant, which was first identified in India, is becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increased transmissibility. According to the COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update issued by the WHO on June 15, the Delta variant is now being reported in about 80 countries around the world.
Another 12 countries and areas are “reporting the detection of B.1.617 without further specification of lineage at this time.
”The B.1.617.2 Delta variant was first detected in India around October 2020. The whole situation is so dynamic because of the variants that are now circulating and... the Delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increased transmissibility,” Swaminathan said responding to a question at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.