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A coronavirus variant that has so far appeared mainly in Latin America is now under special observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Lambda carries a number of mutations with suspected phenotypic implications, such as a potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralising antibodies,’’ the UN agency in Geneva reported on Wednesday.
However, there are no reliable studies or firm findings on this.
The variant was first identified in Peru in August 2020.
Meanwhile, in that country, 81 per cent of all analysed coronavirus cases have been identified as the lambda variant since April.
In Argentina and Chile, the figure was around one-third in recent months.
Coronavirus variants are divided into two categories by the WHO, “variants of interest,’’ which lead to clustered cases or occur in several countries.
“Lambda belongs to this category, or one level higher are the “variants of concern,’’ which are demonstrably more infectious, more difficult to control or leads to more severe diseases.
The latter group includes the delta variant, for example, which prompted the British authorities to postpone the planned ending of anti-coronavirus lockdown measures there.