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What is the Lambda Variant?

As more Americans become vaccinated every day, we are beginning to see a return to some sense of normalcy. Since vaccines began to roll out on December 14, 2020, roughly 58% of the US population has been fully vaccinated. Even with vaccination numbers on the rise, a new COVID variant is beginning to pop up, and we aim to keep you well informed with the most accurate information available. Remember, the first step in being able to make the right choice for yourself is to get tested, and with new COVID-19 testing sites appearing as well, this is easier than ever.

The Lambda variant origin was first documented in Peru in December 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and was given its official designation on June 14, 2021. To help understand what this specific variant is, it would be helpful to understand the working definition of a variant. This working definition is provided by the WHO as well. They describe a variant of COVID-19 as having “genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape.” 

Is the Lambda Variant Dangerous?

Every day, new information is coming out about variants of COVID-19, and more. Generally speaking, any variant of the virus can be dangerous. Although the Lambda variant is not classified the same by health organizations, there are two designations that health organizations classify variants into, either a variant of interest (VOI) or a variant of concern (VOC). A variant classified as a VOC is more dangerous than a VOI. The CDC states that currently, “there are no SARS-CoV-2 variants that are designated as Variants of Interest,” while the WHO does classify the Lambda variant as a VOI. This means, as described above, that the WHO feels that the genetic changes within the Lambda variant are significant enough to keep an eye on, but do not see as an immediate threat to the populations. 

With two leading authorities disagreeing on how to classify this relatively new variant, many people are rightfully asking, is the Lambda variant vaccine resistant? There is data that shows how vaccines might be less effective against the Lambda variant. Thankfully, at the moment, this data is only coming from lab testing and will not always correlate to the real world. BioCollections is aware of the importance of testing and has been making global efforts to increase testing rates.

Lambda Variant vs Delta

The Delta variant continues to be the primary concern of health organizations around the world as it now accounts for 83% of new cases in the US. While the Delta variant remains the main threat, the Lambda variant is in the background with the potential to be as infectious as its counterpart. The Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants, upwards of two times as contagious. For both variants, the biggest at-risk group is the unvaccinated. The threat not only lies in that group being more likely to get the virus, but they are much more likely to transmit it as well. 

As more information becomes readily available about the Lambda variant, it will make it easier to discuss and compare to other variants clearly. From lab testing, it is now understood that this variant has the potential to work around the vaccine. A study by investigators in Chile concluded that their “results indicate that mutations present in the spike protein of the Lambda variant of interest confer increased infectivity and immune escape from neutralizing antibodies.” The data reinforces that vaccination campaigns in countries with high SARS-CoV-2 numbers should focus their surveillance of the variant on its genomic structure.

How do New Variants of COVID19 Emerge?

The first item to note is that, as with less dangerous and more common viruses, variants are more of an issue of if, not a matter of when. New variants of the virus are possible. The best way to slow the emergence of new variants is to use the same solution to keep yourself safe from the virus, and that is to get vaccinated. Some variants spread more easily than others, and thus get one of the specific designations classified above. Regularly check the CDC and WHO websites to see new research and data about variants, and as always, communicate with your doctor about what course of action is best for you.

Working Towards a Bright Future

BioCollections works tirelessly towards aiding researchers through the whole cycle or at specific stages of development of their studies. Our aim is to continue to support our customers well beyond the close-out of a study. We provide researchers with the tools they need to be successful, like study design, kitting services, in-house testing, and collection services, to name a few.

To learn more about how we are working towards a safer future, check out our website

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