In recent days all have been talking about the different variants of coronavirus. Let’s first understand why so many variants develop from a single virus. It is a natural phenomenon and occurs in all viruses. As the virus transmits from one person to another it may bind a small portion of the host’s genetic material to its own. This is what brings about a mutation in the virus hence creating a new variant. Depending upon the place where the genetic material attaches the changes occur in the virus making it more or less transmissible, or more or less severe.
The Divergent Variants
Several variants of Coronavirus have already been reported. Naming some of the ‘variants of concern’ are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta. Indians are well aware of the severity of the Delta variant the havoc it can create. Another new variant namely Lambda scientifically called C.37 has been identified recently as a ‘variant of interest’ meaning it is something to watch out for. Though this variant has been in existence since December 2020 it was restricted only to Peru and a few other countries in South America. It has now been identified in several other countries in Europe and might be fast spreading.
The Unknown Lambda
There have not been many reports on the studies being conducted on the Lambda variant. So it is difficult to say right away the severity of this variant. However, it is known that it has seven mutations, the Delta variant has only three mutations, in its spike protein. Looking at the number of mutations, researchers believe that the Lambda variant will have increased transmission or enhanced resistance to the antibody build-up either due to infection or vaccination. Also, there have been reports on decreased efficacy of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine on this variant.
Some of the symptoms that are being witnessed in patients infected with the Lambda variant are:
- High body temperature requiring close monitoring and immediate medication
- Sudden severe cough inducing secondary infection
- Loss of smell and taste for a longer duration
Reason for worry
This variant has not yet reached India or other countries in Asia. However, in India, there are predictions of a third wave that might break as soon as September 2021. The only way to prevent the third wave is by attaining herd immunity. Vaccination is the most important means of achieving it. Do not hesitate to take the vaccination and help the government to fight the deadly pandemic of Covid-19. Also, remember to mask up when you leave the secure environment of your home and maintain social distance. Also do not flock in big crowds in public places or anywhere else and strictly follow covid-19 protocol.