Covid-19: Lambda variant not detected in SA yet - researchers

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The Lambda variant has not been detected in South Africa yet.
  • In Africa, it has only been detected in Egypt.
  • There is no evidence that Lambda is the cause of the high death rate in Peru, researchers say.

The Lambda variant sweeping through South America has not yet been detected locally.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that the variant has not been detected in South Africa.

"We continue to monitor the data and perform sequencing, and the public will be advised of any developments duly. During this time, it's imperative to not panic or spread misinformation and continue adhering to the same preventative methods," the NICD said.

READ | Covid-19 in South Africa: 15 500 new infections as hospitalisations reach nearly 15 000

A presentation to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) by Professor Tulio de Oliveira and Dr Richard Lessells on Tuesday showed that while the Covid-19 variant had been detected in 31 countries so far, South Africa was not one of them.

In Africa, it has only been detected in Egypt.

According to the presentation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named Lambda a variant of interest on 14 June. It was first detected in Peru in December 2020.

According to the WHO, variants of interest are those "identified to cause significant community transmission or multiple Covid-19 clusters in multiple countries, with increasing relative prevalence alongside increasing number of cases over time, or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health".

Variants of concern, like Beta and Delta, increase in transmissibility and change in clinical disease presentation.

The two researchers said there was no evidence that Lambda was the cause of the high mortality rate in Peru.

Peru had experienced more deaths per capita than any other country since the start of the pandemic – even before the Lambda variant was detected. The country has a ratio of 586 deaths per 100 000 people as of 5 July.

"It is a figure that is almost 89% higher than Hungary, the second worst country by the same measure, with 310.5 deaths per 100 000."

They said research by Public Health England shows that currently there is "no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective".

De Oliveira and Lessells' presentation to the NCCC also showed the variant the country should continue to worry about was the fast-spreading Delta variant. They said it was becoming the most dominant variant in the country. 

"Preliminary estimates from genomic data and epidemiological studies suggest Delta may be significantly more transmissible than other variants of concern, including Beta (30% to 60% more transmissible)."

The Delta variant was first detected in KwaZulu-Natal and was driving infections during the current third wave across the country.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
What do you think about the SA government investigating Chinese online fashion retailer Shein over its business practices?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It’s a waste of resources that should go to local trade
30% - 1400 votes
I think Shein is being unfairly targeted
10% - 463 votes
Dig up the dirt! We must look out for SA retailers
43% - 2021 votes
I don’t mind, as long as the customer doesn’t suffer
18% - 829 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.