Lambda variant of COVID-19 not reported in India so far, says expert

By PTI
NEW DELHI: No case of the Lambda variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been found in India so far, the government said on Friday. Responding to a question at a press briefing, joint secretary in the health ministry, Lav Agarwal, said Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is closely monitoring the variant.

“Lambda was the seventh variant of interest identified by the WHO (World Health Organisation) on June 14 and it has been detected in 25 countries,” he said.

“In our country, no cases have been reported and INSACOG is monitoring it and we are watchful. In Peru, 80 per cent infections were from this variant. It has also been found in South American countries and also in the UK and European countries, and any public health impact will be monitored,” Agarwal said.

NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said the Lambda variant is a variant of interest so its total significance is still being explored. “As far as we know it has not entered our country, we have not detected this variant in our country. Our surveillance system INSACOG is very effective and it will detect it if it happens to enter our country because when you do sequencing, all this will be picked up. So we should watch for that,” he said.

Paul said the Lambda strain is a variant of interest which means its public health significance is being watched but it has not been proven for excessive transmissibility, for impact on excess severity or any other public health issues like those related to vaccines.

“We should be watchful for these variants because the virus is under pressure and when it goes under pressure then it tends to pick up characteristics that tend to help it in survival but as of now we should be watching such variants for their presence in our country but as of now we have no evidence that this has been detected in any part of our country,” he added.