The new Covid-19 Lambda variant which has been circulating in several countries around the world has not yet been detected in South Africa, according to leading health experts.
The new Covid-19 Lambda variant which has been circulating in several countries around the world has not yet been detected in South Africa according to leading health experts.
In a presentation delivered to the National Coronavirus Control Council (NCCC) on Tuesday, Professor Tulio de Oliveira and Dr Richard Lessell from the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa (NGS-SA) said that while the variant has been detected in one African country, it has not reached SA’s shores yet.
The Lambda variant, also known as C.37, was first detected in Peru in December 2020 and has since spread to 30 countries, including Britain and Egypt.
The World Health Organisation identified the Lambda variant as a “variant of interest” in June.
South American countries which were hardest hit by the variant were Argentina, Chile and Ecuador.
Last month in two large cities in Peru, 90.6% of new Covid-19 cases in Arequipa and 78.1% of new cases in Cusco were the Lambda variant, according to the Peruvian Ministry of Health.
“Peru has experienced more deaths per capita than any other country since the start of the pandemic, with 586 deaths per 100 000 people as of July 5.
’’It is a figure that is almost 89 percent higher than Hungary, the second-worst country by the same measure, with 310.5 deaths per 100 000,” said the experts in the presentation.
The Lambda variant seems to be overtaking other variants in South America and also contains mutations from the Delta variant which is currently driving South Africa’s third wave of infections.
According to Public Health England (PHE), there is currently “no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective”.