Lambda variant of COVID-19 prompts renewed concern among public health officials

Cases of the coronavirus are surging across much of the country yet again due to what experts are calling the “delta” variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Now, the word is out about yet another variant of the virus that could soon infiltrate American cities: the lambda variant, formally known as SARS-CoV-2 C.37, which is thought to be more resistant to the vaccines currently available for COVID-19 than previous strains, the Washington Examiner reports.

A “variant of interest”

The lambda variant was first discovered in Peru, a nation that has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, with an estimated 595 deaths per 100,000 cases of COVID-19 — the highest death rate from the disease in the world.

The discovery was made in November 2020, and since that time, it is believed by researchers and scientists to have spread to as many as eight other South American nations and up to 41 nations total around the globe, according to the Examiner.

One of those nations is the United States — and according to a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lambda variant has already been detected in more than three dozen American states.

“There are currently more than 1,300 lambda (C.37) sequences in the US as of August 4, 2021, and the lambda variant has been identified in 44 states,” a CDC spokesperson told Newsweek.

A “variant of concern”

That sounds rather concerning, particularly in light of reports that this variant is more transmissible, as well as more resistant to vaccines, than the original strain of the coronavirus.

That said, the CDC spokesperson pointed out that the lambda variant currently makes up less than 0.2% of all COVID-19 cases nationwide — a far cry from the 93% of new cases attributed to the delta variant.

Still, the Examiner reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has already classified the lambda variant as a “variant of interest,” or VOI, that should be studied more closely.

Should suspicions about the variant’s resistance to vaccines prove true, the WHO would likely upgrade lambda to a “variant of concern,” or VOC.

A look ahead

However, a WHO official named Maria Van Kerkhove told¬†Newsweek that the lambda variant doesn’t yet appear to “take off once it’s reported in a country,” despite concerns that it is more contagious and transmissible than prior variants.

It is worth noting that the CDC has yet to even classify the lambda variant as a VOI, much less a VOC. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing words of warning from President Joe Biden and others on the left who are set on fear-mongering rather than policy-making in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

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