New ‘Lambda’ South American Covid variant discovered in the UK

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Cases of a new Coronavirus variant that has infected thousands across South America has been discovered in the UK.

Six cases of the Lambda variant have been identified in the country, all of which have been linked to overseas travel.

Public Health England say that the Lambda variant has been designated as a variant under investigation (VUI) due to a rise in international cases and several notable mutations.

In Peru, where it was identified in August, the Lambda variant now accounts for 82 per cent of new infections.

And it is also being found in one in three confirmed cases in Chile.

It is also spreading rapidly in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

Pablo Tsukayama and his team at Lima’s Cayetano Heredia University have traced the evolution of the Lambda variant in Peru.

He told DW news: "With 187,000 dead and the highest mortality rates in the world, we are the country that has struggled most when it comes to the coronavirus. Therefore, it is probably no wonder the new variant has gotten its start here."

PHE said tests were ongoing and there is currently no evidence this variant causes more severe disease or renders vaccines less effective.

A further 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with Covid-19 in the week up to June 21. Of these, 304 were unvaccinated.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Through the success of our vaccination programme, data suggest we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations. This is hugely encouraging news, but we cannot become complacent.

“Two doses of vaccine are far more effective against Covid-19 than a single dose, so please make sure that you come forward to get your second dose as soon as you are invited.

“Whilst vaccines provide excellent protection, they do not provide total protection, so it is still as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution.

“Protect yourself and the people around you by working from home where possible, and by practising ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times.”

PHE said tests were ongoing and there is currently no evidence this variant causes more severe disease or renders vaccines less effective (PA Wire)
PHE said tests were ongoing and there is currently no evidence this variant causes more severe disease or renders vaccines less effective (PA Wire)

The Government said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 15,810 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

The Government also said a further 18 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 128,066.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

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