What is known about the new variant of the lambda coronavirus?

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What is known about the new variant of the lambda coronavirus?
What is known about the new variant of the lambda coronavirus?

In South America and several countries on other continents, a variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been identified, which is designated by the Greek letter "lambda". In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked it as of interest. The Conversation writes that it is known about this option.

Lambda was included in the list of options of interest due to mutations that, presumably, make this type of coronavirus more dangerous. If the suspicions are confirmed, then this option will be attributed to the cause of concern, as "alpha" or "delta".

In the lambda variant, mutations in the S-protein are most alarming. It gives the coronavirus its characteristic shape and is needed to penetrate the cell. Changes in S protein can affect the effectiveness of vaccines. About one mutation, which the variant "lambda" has, it is known that because of it, the antibodies of those who have recovered worse neutralize viral particles. Another mutation is located in the same place in the genetic code as in the "delta" variant, but differs from it. The "delta" mutation makes it easier to infect cells and elude the antibodies of vaccinated people.

Preliminary evidence indicates that the lambda variant infects cells more easily than the Wuhan SARS-CoV-2, alpha and gamma. It is too early to say that this option is more contagious, but it is possible.

The antibodies produced by the Chinese inactivated vaccine CoronaVac do worse with the lambda variant. Based on the mutations present, antibodies formed after vaccination with Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech and after illness are also more difficult to bind to viral particles. But the decline in rates is moderate, and immunity is provided not only by antibodies, so vaccines should still protect well against the disease.

It is not yet clear whether the "lambda" variant causes complications more often. It is also unclear whether it is capable of crowding out the "delta": in countries where both options are distributed, it is necessary to establish monitoring.

How to keep yourself safe when restrictions are lifted

In England, almost all restrictions have been lifted, despite the surge in the incidence of COVID-19. Much of what has become familiar in a year and a half is no longer necessary, but some are still worth doing. The Guardian consulted three experts for advice.

It is almost always worth wearing a mask under a roof. On the street, there are rarely situations where you need a mask. Unless thousands of people have gathered on the square and sing in chorus: "Football is coming home."

Good protection is provided by masks of classes FFP2 and FFP3 (respirators). With fabric masks, everything is more complicated. For them to be useful at the population level, about 70% of people need to cover their mouth and nose.

But even such masks should be worn simply so that wearing them is a positive norm. Explaining with others is not necessary. Likewise, you should not ask people why they put on a mask. It is not polite. A person who says he forgot his mask can be offered a spare, but if he refuses, there is no need to make a scene.

If a mask gets in the way in the workplace, then at least it should be worn when walking around the building. Colleagues can worry that not everyone is doing it. This must be treated with understanding, because it is not known why they are so worried (for example, they live with someone from the risk group and are afraid to bring infection into the house - TASS note).

As for the taxi, the cabin is well ventilated if you open two windows. But it's worth worrying about the driver. He doesn't choose who to ride with every day.

Rapid tests often give a false negative result, besides, adolescents have learned to fake them, so it cannot be judged with confidence that a person is not sick.Nevertheless, the test is better than nothing, so it is better to do it before the meeting. You can ask other people about it too. Likewise, they may ask you. But if you refuse, then people may refuse to meet or move it outside. There is no need to be offended by this.

There are different opinions about hugs and air kisses. One expert is willing to cuddle when meeting only with those who received both doses of the vaccine. Another noted that it is safer to cuddle with those who have no children. However, it's best to ask the second person to avoid embarrassment. With children, everything is more difficult. In Great Britain, the elders were vaccinated first. Most have been vaccinated, so the virus is more common in young and very young.

When it comes to hand washing, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was overly emphasized. But clean hands is, in principle, good, because a variety of diseases are transmitted through them.

Better not to bring together people with different views of what is happening. If such a company has gathered, then it is better to leave it.

When it is known about someone that he or she is prescribed self-isolation, but the person ignores it, you should not get involved. Perhaps he or she has no choice, for example because of work. As a last resort, you can offer help.

Traveling abroad can be viewed from two sides. For fully vaccinated people who do tests before departure and immediately after returning, the risk is low, especially when there is already a large outbreak in your country. But still, you can bring the "delta" option somewhere else, and it is our duty to prevent this from happening.

China does not want WHO to test laboratories in Wuhan

Last Friday, the head of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, spoke about how the investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2 should be continued. China is outraged by this plan because it mentions testing of laboratories and research institutes in Wuhan. Reuters and The Washington Post write about this, and Ghebreyesus's proposals are published on the WHO website.

The plan is as follows. It is necessary to check people, wild animals in natural conditions and captivity, animals that are raised on farms and their habitats. The priority is places where there were the first outbreaks of COVID-19, and areas where related coronaviruses are circulating. You should also check food markets in and around Wuhan, early sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 genomes, laboratories and research institutes near the places where the first cases of the disease were detected in December 2019.

Tedros Ghebreyesus stressed that research should be separated from politics. For this, he said, China must provide all relevant data.

Since SARS-CoV-2 is not the last pathogen with pandemic potential, the world needs a platform to investigate such threats. To this end, WHO has established a permanent International Scientific Advisory Group on Emerging Pathogens (SAGO). This group will deal with the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and in the future with new pathogens.

Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the State Committee for Hygiene and Health of China, said yesterday that China is not happy with the proposed plan. According to him, some points are contrary to science and common sense.

The representative of the PRC in a joint mission with the WHO, which visited China in January, recalled that in their report a laboratory leak was called extremely unlikely, so it is not necessary to spend time and effort testing this hypothesis. But other countries can see if there has been a leak from their laboratories. And baseline data on the first patients was not provided in order to keep their privacy intact.

The head of the National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Yuan Zhiming, said that the institute has not yet identified a single case of COVID-19, and the laboratory has not had any leaks or accidental infections of personnel since its opening in 2018.

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