As COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, new variants of coronavirus are being detected from across the world. Adding to the list of new variants found in different countries, the United Kingdom last week said six cases of Lambda variant were detected in the country between February 23 and June 7.
We take a look at the variants of coronavirus, its impact and Lambda variant:
What is a variant?
As per the Health Ministry, mutation is part of the evolution of virus. The SARS-Cov-2 virus is a single-stranded RNA virus. Changes in the genetic sequence of the RNA are mutations. The moment a virus enters its host cell or a susceptible body, it starts replicating. When the spread of infection increases, the rate of replication also increases. A virus that has got a mutation in it is known as a variant.
Mutations can have positive, negative or neutral effects on human health. The normal process of mutations begins to impact humans when it leads to changes in transmission levels or on treatment. Negative impacts include clustering of infections, increased transmissibility, ability to escape immunity, among others. Positive impact can be that the virus becomes non-viable.
Is Lambda variant a new variant?
Public Health England has categorised the Lambda variant as a 'variant under investigation'. While the Lambda variant has been detected now in UK, it isn't a new mutation. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Lambda variant or C.37 was first found in Peru in December 2020. WHO designated the variant earlier this month. The variant is believed to be widely prevalent in Peru.
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As health authorities in the UK are still investigating the variant, there is no information about its transmissibility and symptoms. However, the country's National Health Service has said symptoms normally associated with any other variant of coronavirus like fever, loss of smell and taste, among others, are likely to be associated with Lambda variant as well.
Has it been found in India?
There is no evidence to suggest that Lambda variant is prevalent in India. Delta variant (B.1.617) was found largely prevalent in India and is believed to be the main reason behind the second wave witnessed in the country. More than 60 per cent of cases in Maharashtra in February 2021 pertained to Delta variants.
The Health Ministry recently classified Delta Plus (B.1.617.2) as a variant of concern. The variant has increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potentially reduces monoclonal antibody response.
How to protect oneself?
The best way to protect oneself from coronavirus and its variants is to wear double mask, maintain social distancing and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour. Besides, one should isolate and get tested on experiencing any of the symptoms of the virus, and get vaccinated as early as possible.
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