Lambda study: How infectious is the new Corona variant?

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The lambda variant of coronavirus was initially discovered in Peru last year and subsequently spread across the South American continent. Lambda is among the variants under surveillance by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the variant has not yet been classified as a concern. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, it has been found several times in Germany, but most recently only in isolated cases.

According to a study, Lambda is highly infectious and more resistant to vaccines than the original variant of the virus, as reported by the news agency Reuters. However, this was also true for other Corona mutations. According to Reuters, laboratory tests have now revealed that there are three mutations in the spike protein of the lambda variant – RSYLTPGD246-253N, 260 L452Q and F490S – that make the virus more resistant to neutralization by vaccine-induced antibodies. Two other mutations, T76I and L452Q, provided high infectivity. The study from Japan was published on the preprint server bioRxiv.

However, it is not yet clear whether the lambda mutation is really more dangerous than the delta variant. Although one of the study’s co-authors, Kei Sato of the University of Tokyo, says, “Lambda may become a potential threat to humanity.”

But experts disagree. As USA Today reports, the first lambda mutation has surfaced at a hospital in Houston, Texas. Health experts there stress that it is still far too early to assess whether lambda will cause similar concern as delta.

Expert: Data are being “overinterpreted”
S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital, where the lambda case emerged, said while lambda has some mutations to watch for, as with other variants, the variant seems to him nowhere near as contagious as delta. “I know Lambda is getting a lot of interest, but I think we really need to focus on Delta,” Long told ABC. “Regardless of the variant, our best defense against coronavirus remains vaccination.”

It’s a view echoed by German experts. The data from Japan are currently being overinterpreted, Carsten Watzl, secretary general of the German Society for Immunology, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Wednesday in response to a query. The data showed that lambda was slightly more contagious than the original virus in laboratory tests (in vitro), but not more contagious than the delta variant. According to the data, Lambda could also escape immune protection “somewhat, but not as strongly as Delta.” In this respect, this variant does not yet worry him on the basis of the data currently available, Watzl explained.

Luis Ostrovksy, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Medical School and an infectious disease expert at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston, points to another phenomenon: “We will soon be living in two pandemic worlds, one vaccinated, the other not.” More than 99 percent of all Covid 19 inpatient cases in U.S. hospitals are unvaccinated. “Virtually all of my patients are unvaccinated and now regret not getting vaccinated,” Ostrosky told USA Today.

source: rnd.de with material from dpa/picture:pixabay.com

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