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FACT FINDERS: Health officials keeping eye on lambda variant

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:22 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - While the delta variant remains a top concern for U.S. health officials, they are also keeping their eyes on another mutation.

The World Health Organization said the lambda variant was first documented in Peru in December 2020.

Now, it’s spread to multiple countries and is designated by the WHO as a “Variant of Interest.”

According to data from the Public Health England, lambda has a number of mutations. There is a potential for increased transmissibility and there is also a possible increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies.

Dr. Sean Elliott with Tucson Medical Center adds it’s not thought to be worse than delta, although it is a bit more contagious than the alpha variant. As for vaccine efficacy, he said it’s too early to have proven if lambda is covered by the vaccines authorized in the U.S., but it likely will be.

”The variant mutations that are occurring are in the spike protein but so far, not in any way which directly negatively affects how well the vaccine protects us,” he said.

Dr. Elliott said so far, all the variants have been well covered by the vaccines. According to TGen, no cases of lambda have been detected in Arizona.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.