Kappa and Lambda- Newest Sars-CoV-2 Variants
Part of: GS Prelims and GS II – health
- Kappa and Lambda variants have been labelled as Variants of Interest (VoI) by WHO.
- This means that the genetic changes involved are predicted or known to affect transmissibility, disease severity, or immune escape.
- It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that the variant has caused significant community transmission in multiple countries and population groups
What are the concerns for India?
- Kappa was first detected in India.
- More than 3,500 of the close to 30,000 cumulative samples submitted by India to the GISAID initiative are of this variant.
- GISAID is a public platform started by the WHO in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences
What is Lambda?
- Lambda is the newest VoI identified by the WHO.
- It was first identified in Peru in December 2020. It is the dominant variant in the South American country with 81% samples found to be carrying it.
- LV has at least seven significant mutations in the spike protein (the Delta variant has three)
- The LV has greater infectivity than the Alpha and Gamma variants (known to have originated in the UK and Brazil respectively).
- India has not yet reported any case of LV
- A study also reported decreased effectiveness of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine (Coronavac) against the Lambda variant.
What is a Variant of Concern?
- A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.
- There are four – Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta – which have been designated as “variants of concern”, and are considered a bigger threat.
- These were all recently named after letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid linkage with the country of their origin that had been happening until then.