The new Lambda variant of Covid-19 has not yet been detected in South Africa, according to infectious disease experts.
On Tuesday, Professor Tulio de Oliveira and Dr Richard Lessels, from the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa, made a presentation to the country’s National Coronavirus Command Council confirming the virus has not reached SA’s shores, yet.
“We can also confirm that the Delta variant is widespread in many provinces and we are increasing genomic surveillance as we battle the explosive third wave,” De Oliveira wrote on Twitter.
According to their presentation, the Lambda variant (known as C.37 to scientists) was first detected in Peru in December 2020 and was designated a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on June 14.
For comparison, the Delta variant, which has been detected in South Africa, was designated as a “variant of concern” by WHO.
According to WHO’s website, a variant meets this designation when there is evidence it increases transmissibility, causes more severe illness or reduces the effectiveness of vaccines.
De Oliveira and Lessels’ presentation confirmed that the Lamba variant has been found in 31 countries, including countries in Africa.
It contains “mutations from Delta (which is currently dominating infections in SA)” and “also contains mutations that are related to immune escape (490S).”