Will the vaccines be effective against this variant?
Yesterday, the Department of Health (DOH) along with the University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) announced the first case of the COVID-19 Lambda variant in the Philippines. This came along with 182 new cases of the Delta variant, upping the country’s number to 807.
“The Lambda variant case is a 35-year old female and is currently being validated as to whether she is a local or ROF case,” the release reads. “The case was asymptomatic and tagged as Recovered after undergoing the 10-day isolation period. The DOH is currently conducting back tracing and case investigation.”
This latest variant to enter the country was first identified in Peru in August of last year, but was only classified as a Variant of Interest (VOI) on June 14m 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Other classifications include Variant of Concern (or VOC, which Delta falls under in the US) and Variant of High Consequence .
“This VOI has the potential to affect the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 and is currently being monitored for its possible clinical significance,” the release explains.
According to WHO, around 80 percent of infections in Peru has had the Lambda variant as its carrier. Although, according to the global science initiative and primary source GISAID, Lambda cases have significantly died down in the Latin American nation, particularly in the weeks leading to this month.
There are fears and speculation, based on a Medrxiv study in Chile, that this VOI might have the ability to “evade vaccine antibodies.” Tests done by New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, however, seem to conclude that it will not likely cause a significant loss of protection against infection.
A pre-print, peer-reviewed by bioRxiv also concluded that mRNA vaccines, which include Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, were deemed effective against this particular variant.
Further close monitoring, therefore, is needed especially since it has started spreading to different countries outside of South America. As of the moment, not any data is known whether it will be more transmissible or severe than other variants, or if infected people will exhibit different symptoms.