The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that the coronavirus variant of COVID-19, commonly known as C.37, has been named Lambda. Lambda has been identified in 29 countries, most notably in South America where it is believed to have originated.
First identified in Peru, the Lambda lineage was classified as a global Variant of Interest on Monday due to an “elevated prevalence” in South America, the WHO said in its weekly update.
Lambda has been rampant in Peru where 81 percent of COVID-19 cases since April 2021 were associated with this variant, authorities reported.
In Chile, it was detected in 32 percent of all submitted sequences in the last 60 days, and only outclassed by the Gamma (P.1) variant which was first identified in Brazil. Other countries such as Argentina and Ecuador have also reported elevated prevalence of the new variant.
The WHO reported that the Lambda lineage carries mutations that might increase transmissibility or strengthen the virus’s resistance to antibodies.
However, evidence is too limited for the moment, the Geneva-based organization said, and more studies are required to understand better the Lambda variant.
Lineage prevalence in Peru:
As of the early hours of this Saturday, 12th June 2021, Santiago de Chile has once again entered quarantine. The entire region begins with the mobility restriction measure when 57.8% of the country’s target population has completed their covid-19 vaccination schedule, but ICUs are on the brink of collapse.
According to the latest figures provided by the Undersecretary of Health, Paula Daza, the occupation of critical beds reaches 96% nationwide. But the vast majority of seriously ill patients are not immunized and there is a worrying decrease in the age of patients admitted to critical beds. Patients under 50 years of age in ICUs have tripled compared to the worst moment of last year, according to ICOVID, an initiative led by the University of Chile, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the University of Concepción based on official data . The deaths reach 38,685, between confirmed and suspected.
El Pais report (in Spanish)
Lineage chart courtesy of Outbreak.info
Daily cases chart courtesy of OurworldinData.org
Peru said its Covid-19 death toll is actually almost three times as high as it had officially counted until now. The new figure would rank Peru as one of the world’s hardest-hit countries relative to its population.
The new death toll is estimated at 180,764 through May 22, according to a report released on Monday by cabinet ministers and health officials in Lima, the capital. That is almost triple the official death toll of about 68,000. President Francisco Sagasti is expected to endorse the new death estimate.
The “strong presence” of the C-37 coronavirus variant in Peru since last April has been confirmed, resulting in three variants in total, Health Minister Oscar Ugarte announced on Monday. According to the government official, this new variant could have caused the peak in COVID-19 cases during the second wave.
“The studies carried out by the National Institute of Health (INS) and the Epidemiology Center of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) have confirmed the presence of a new variant in the country: the C-37 […] a strong presence has been observed since April,” he said at a press conference.
C.37: Novel lineage expanding in Peru and Chile, with a convergent deletion in the ORF1a gene (Δ3675-3677) and a novel deletion in the Spike gene (Δ246-252, G75V, T76I, L452Q, F490S, T859N)