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Lambda COVID-19 variant more infectious, vaccine-resistant

Japanese researchers say the Lambda variant of the coronavirus is highly infectious and more resistant to vaccines.

The Lambda variant of the coronavirus, first identified in Peru and now spreading in South America, is highly infectious and more resistant to vaccines than the original version of the virus first detected in Wuhan, China, Japanese researchers say.

In laboratory experiments, they found that three mutations in Lambda's spike protein, known as RSYLTPGD246-253N, 260 L452Q and F490S, help it resist neutralisation by vaccine-induced antibodies. 

Two additional mutations, T76I and L452Q, help make Lambda highly infectious, they concluded.

In a paper posted on Wednesday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review, the researchers warn that with Lambda being labelled a "Variant of Interest" by the World Health Organisation rather than a "Variant of Concern," people might not realise it is a serious ongoing threat. 

Although it is not clear yet whether this variant is more dangerous than the Delta now threatening populations in many countries, senior researcher Kei Sato of the University of Tokyo said "Lambda can be a potential threat to the human society".


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