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Lambda Variant in the PH: Should we be worried?

Lambda Variant Case in the Philippines - Camella Manors - Affordable Condo in the Philippines

With the ongoing Delta Variant surge in the country, it seems that COVID-19 won’t stop in its tracks. To date, COVID-19 has infected more than 217 million people worldwide; subsequently, resulting to an almost 5 million deaths worldwide. Moreover, the viral infection mechanism of COVID-19 is developing over time as mutations continue to rise. Recently, a first local case of C.37 or Lambda variant was first recorded by the Philippine’s Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH discovered the Lambda Variant in a 35-year-old female from Western Visayas. It was exactly three weeks after she has been tested positive of COVID-19. Hence, the confirmation that she is the carrier of the Lambda Variant came after at exactly 10 days after her quarantine or isolation period. Since it is a local case, scientists have suggested that the Lambda Variant is circulating through a local transmission. Thus, it did not come from the overseas.

What is the Lambda Variant?

The Lambda variation, or C.37, has its origins in Peru in August 2020. Lambda infections were initially uncommon. Lambda, on the other hand, has recently emerged as the main version in Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. Given its infection trajectory in South America, the World Health Organization has categorized this as a Variant of Interest.

Based on the testimony by the World Health Organization, “Peruvian authorities indicated that 81 percent of Covid-19 cases sequence since April 2021 has connections to Lambda. Argentina reported an increase in Lambda prevalence from the third week of February 2021, and between 2 April and 19 May 2021, the variant accounted for 37% of Covid-19 instances sequenced.”

According to Public Health England, the Lambda Variant has infected patients in 26 nations. Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia were among the countries with Lambda Variant cases. Likewise, the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe follow.

Since Lambda Variant is officially a Variant of Interest last June 14, 2021, it poses an emerging risk to public health.

“Scientists found that the Lambda Variant has substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries. Moreover, it has a rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased COVID-19 incidence.”

– COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update of the World Health Organization

The Protein Mutations

Although there is still a long way to study this rising Lambda variant, still the early studies show that it possesses a number of mutations. The first protein mutation is the T859N. It is the same protein spike in the Ioata Variant prevalent in New York City. On the other hand, the Lambda Variant has another protein mutation which is L452Q. This protein mutation is responsible for the virus to evade the neutralizing bodies generated by both vaccines and prior infections. As a result, the experts might be looking to a variant that has a strong resistance towards the vaccines available today. In fact, a study by University of Chile last July 1, showed that the Sinovac vaccine was ineffective against the Lambda Variant as it escapes the human antibodies.

Furthermore, a University of Tokyo research team has discovered the same Lambda Variant’s potential evading characteristic against antibodies. Kei Sato, the senior researcher, suggests that the “Lambda Variant can be a potential threat to the human society.” Nonetheless, our science and health experts need to further research the efficacy of the vaccines.

Lambda Variant Symptoms

Similar with the usual symptoms of COVID-19, infected persons will experience the most common. These symptoms are a high temperature, continuous cough, anosmia, and ageusia.

Is there a need for a booster shot?

Is there a need for a booster shot for COVID-19 - Camella Manors - Resort-themed Condo in the Philippines
Is there a need for a booster shot for COVID-19? | Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

With the continuing spread as well as the multitude of mutations, the need for effective vaccines is crucial to combatting the pandemic. However, many countries are vying to have a booster shot. Most particularly, after having the 1-dose or 2-dose vaccine regimen for more effectivity. Some look into booster shots as an extra layer of prevention against severity as new variants arise.

On the contrary, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called the attention of the rich countries to stop the booster shots for the rest of the year. One reason is there are still lack of supplies in poor countries, who have yet to receive first doses. He blatantly said in a news conference, “I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers. It is because the manufacturers have prioritized or been legally obliged to fulfill bilateral deals with rich countries willing to pay top dollar, low income countries have been deprived of the tools to protect their people.”

Yale Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist Albert Shaw, MD, PhD suggests that the most important thing right now is for people to have a full dose vaccine regimen. Hence, the need for booster shots will follow suit once a clear path towards increasing protection has been found.

“Right now, there is uncertainty about boosters. Is it possible you’ll need one at some point? Sure, especially if more people don’t get vaccinated and other variants emerge that are worse than what we have now and can possibly evade the protections of the current vaccines.” 

 Albert Shaw, MD, PhD

Protect the Community and Follow Health Protocols

RFO Condo in Bacolod - Camella Manors Bacolod - Aerial Community Perspective
RFO Condo in Bacolod – Camella Manors Bacolod – Aerial Community Perspective

The World Health Organization does not indeed mince their words when it comes to telling the truth about the pandemic. In fact, they said that mutations will continue to rise as long as the virus is still existing.

“Virus evolution continues to be expected, and the more SARS-COV-2 circulates, the more opportunities it has to evolve. Reducing transmission through established and proven disease control methods are a must.”

World Health organization

For this reason, you need to keep in mind to always wear your face masks and face shields, especially when going outside. These basic measures as well as the frequent hand washing will not only protect you and your families, but also your community. Having a healthy community means that people living in it is likewise.

The great thing about living in a healthy community such as Camella Manors is it has resort-themed amenities that you can rejuvanate in amidst all the stress and anxieties brought by the pandemic. Finally, its mid-rise community is lavished with the fresh scent of pine trees every single day. A perfect oasis amidst a global health crisis.

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