The troublesome Lambda Covid variant has now been spotted in 31 countries after Australia became the latest nation to detect it.
The mutant strain caught the attention of World Health Organization bosses after it was spotted in the UK, US and Germany. Thought to have originated in Peru last summer, it quickly spiralled and now makes up almost 81 per cent of the South American country’s cases.
Doctors monitoring its growth fear it spreads easier than other strains, including the Indian version that has caused havoc across the world. But coronavirus-tracking scientists are puzzled about the true transmissibility of the variant, given it was first spotted in Britain and February and has yet to take off.
They have yet to uncover any proof the variant is actually any more contagious than existing strains, including Delta or ‘Delta Plus’. Others also insist there is no evidence to suggest it is deadlier, despite some doctors linking its spread to Peru having the world’s worst Covid mortality rate.
And in a glimmer of hope, scientists have found both the Pfizer and Moderna’s jabs are effective at cutting the risk of severe illness caused by the strain. Australia became the latest country to detect Lambda, it was revealed today. But the case also dates back several months.
The variant was detected in a traveller stuck in hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April, according to the national genomics database AusTrakka.