COVID-19

WHO: Not enough evidence yet that COVID-19 Lambda variant more infectious

Bonz Magsambol
WHO: Not enough evidence yet that COVID-19 Lambda variant more infectious
A World Health Organization official says the WHO will deem it as a variant of concern once it is proven to be more transmissible, causes more severe disease, and ‘resilient to the currently available therapeutics or vaccines’

An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, July 6, that the COVID-19 Lambda variant, which reportedly originated from Peru, is not yet considered as a “variant of concern (VOC)” at this time.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that the Lambda variant “at this point in time still remains a variant of interest” or VOI.

Abeyasinghe added, “That does not mean that we are not following it, we are still studying it and it doesn’t warrant a classification as a variant of concern at this point in time.”

According to the WHO, a variant is considered a VOC if it meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • Increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology
  • Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation
  • Decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics

Four VOCs have been detected to date: Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma. The Philippines has reported cases of these VOCs.

A variant is considered VOI if it contains mutations with “established or suspected phenotypic implication,” has been identified to cause community transmission/multiple COVID-19 cases/clusters, and has been either detected in multiple countries or otherwise assessed to be a VOI by WHO in consultation with the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group

Abeyasinghe said that while the Lambda variant is feared to be more contagious than the other variants, there’s still not enough information to make that conclusion.

“If we see that the virus is more transmissible, is causing more severe disease, is resilient to the currently available therapeutics or vaccines, then we will decide to call it a variant of concern,” he said.

The WHO official said that the Lambda variant is present in “20 to 30 countries now, but so far, it has not demonstrated characteristics that will warrant its classification as a variant of concern.” – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.