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Lambda variant cases of COVID-19 are popping up in the US. Here's what you need to know

With the rapid spread of the delta variant across the nation in recent months, what does this lambda variant mean for you?

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A Houston hospital reported a lambda COVID-19 variant case this week as COVID-19 cases in general have started to rise again across the country.

With the rapid spread of the delta variant across the nation in recent months, what does this lambda variant mean for you?

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What is the lambda COVID-19 variant?

Coronavirus variants arise from viruses constantly mutating while replicating in a host body.

The lambda COVID-19 variant, otherwise known as C.37, was first documented in December 2020 in Peru, according to the World Health Organization. On June 14, 2021, the WHO designated the lambda variant as a "variant of interest," or VOI.

According to the WHO, the working definition of a VOI is a variant with genetic changes that can affect characteristics of how it's spread and the severity of disease.

The lambda COVID-19 variant is not yet considered a "variant of concern," or VOC, by the WHO. The working definition of a VOC is a variant that demonstrates an increase in how transmissibility or decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures.

How effective are vaccines against the lambda variant?

The U.S. has identified almost 700 cases of the lambda variant.

However, there is no large population data to report about the lambda variant so it's unsure how resistant the variant might be to vaccines.

Also, there is no way to determine how dangerous the lambda variant might be due to the lack of real-world large population data available.

How does the lambda variant compare to the delta variant?

The delta variant makes up 83% of sequenced samples in the U.S., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

It's more transmissible than any other variant so far, including the lambda variant.

Recent data from Israel evaluating effectiveness of the Pfizer/BionTech mRNA vaccine on the delta variant found the vaccine to be 64% protective against infection and 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.

Other studies indicated that the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are also effective against the delta variant.

As for the lambda variant, it has circulated in the U.S. for months without a spike in cases. However, there is not enough information known for experts to determine how dangerous it is or how effective vaccines are against it.