The scientists warned that the new variant contains “mutations present in the spike protein”. A mutant variant of the coronavirus pathogen is causing concern for scientists because it has been found to contain “unusual mutations” that may make it resistant to vaccines. Research has found that the Lambda variant is more transmissible than the original strain of coronavirus.
Recent data has revealed that the new variant is possibly more contagious than the Delta, Alpha and Gamma variants that were first detected in India, the UK and Brazil.
The data suggests vaccines may not offer as much protection against the Lambda strain as against the original version of the pathogen.
Researchers at the University of Chile, in Santiago, wrote in the study published on Thursday: “Our data show for the first time that mutations present in the spike protein of the Lambda variant confer escape to neutralising antibodies and increased infectivity.”
Pablo Tsukayama, a molecular scientist at the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima said the Lambda strain’s spread “would suggest its rate of transmission is higher than other variants”.
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Public Health England listed the Lambda variant as a strain of concern on June 23.
The Lambda variant was first discovered in Peru last December has now reached 27 countries.
So far six cases of the strain have been identified in the UK between February 23 and June 7.
In Peru, the strain now accounts for 82 percent of new cases and has spread to Chile, where it makes up a third of all cases.
After the spread of the Lambda strain in South America there are worries over a lack of gene-sequencing labs in the region.
Without an increase in gene sequencing labs to track the variant properly, the Lambda strain could spread undetected.
Alarmingly, Latin America makes up 20 percent of global coronavirus cases, but only contains 8 percent of the world’s population.
The threat from coronavirus in the region is compounded by data that suggests only one in 10 Latin Americans have been fully vaccinated against the pathogen.
Director of the PAHO, Carissa Etienne, said last week: “While we’re seeing some reprieve from the virus in countries in the northern hemisphere, for most countries in our region the end remains a distant future.”