The Department of Health (DOH) announced the detection of the first case of the COVID-19 Lambda variant in the Philippines on August 15.
In a statement, the DOH said that the first case of the Lambda variant involves a 35-year-old woman. She was asymptomatic and tagged as recovered after undergoing a 10-day isolation period.
Authorities are still verifying whether she is a local or a returning overseas Filipino (ROF). The DOH also reported an additional 182 Delta variant cases on the same day, bringing the total to 807.
The Lambda variant or also known as C.37 was first identified in Peru in late 2020. It was classified as a Variant of Interest (VOI) or Variant of Concern (VOC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on June 14.
It spreads rapidly in South America and has been found in 31 countries, according to data from GISAID. Since the Lambda variant has reached the Philippines, it is important to be informed about it. Here are some facts that we know so far: (Read: Here’s The Truth About The Delta COVID-19 Variant That You Should Know)
Fast facts about Lambda Variant: It is highly transmissible
The Lambda variant carries a number of mutations with suspected implications such as potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies.
In a COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update of WHO published in mid-June, it is stated that “Lambda has been associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries, with rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased COVID-19 incidence.”
The DOH also said that the variant “has the potential to affect the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 and is currently being monitored for its possible clinical significance.” (Read: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About COVID-19 in India)
Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing are still effective measures to protect yourself from the virus. As much as possible, avoid or lessen going out when it’s not essential.
Fast facts about Lambda Variant: It shows vaccine resistance
More studies are still needed to prove the vaccine efficacy on the Lambda variant. However, a preprint study in Chile concludes that the variant may avoid vaccine antibodies.
“Our data show that mutations present in the spike protein of the Lambda variant confer increased infectivity and escape to neutralizing antibodies elicited by the inactivated virus vaccine CoronaVac,” the study wrote.
CoronaVac is a vaccine manufactured by Sinovac. Meanwhile, other vaccine brands such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are being studied as of now.
Researchers have stressed that further studies are required to validate the effectiveness of vaccines against the Lambda variant. (Read: Common COVID-19 Vaccine Fake News And Myths–Debunked!)
Getting vaccinated gives high protection against viruses, so it is still necessary to get your COVID-19 shot as soon as possible.
Fast facts about Lambda Variant: Booster shots might be needed
A United States preprint study suggests considering booster immunizations to increase protection against the Lambda variant.
“If an increase in breakthrough infections accompanied by severe COVID-19 is found following adenovirus vector or mRNA vaccination, this would provide a rationale for public health policy-makers and manufacturers to consider booster immunizations that would increase protection against the VOCs and Lambda variant,” the study noted.
As of writing, WHO and DOH have not yet released any statement regarding the booster shots following the rise of Lambda variant cases globally.