Researchers from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine have proven both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are effective against the Lambda COVID variant.
The new variant made headlines this week after researchers suggested it could be more contagious than other variants, with the potential to escape neutralising antibodies. Currently, the strain has been identified in over 30 countries, with eight cases being discovered in the UK.
Luckily, the NYU study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, shows that fully inoculated people won’t have to worry about the potentially deadly variant as vaccines effectively protect against infection and severe illness.
Vaccinated people won’t have to worry about the Lambda variant
The study reiterated: ‘The results suggest that the vaccines in current use will remain protective against the lambda variant and that monoclonal antibody therapy will remain effective.’
The findings highlight the importance of wide-spread adoption of vaccination which will protect individuals from disease, decrease virus spread and slow the emergence of novel variants.
During the study, researchers tested samples of the variant against vaccine-elicited antibodies and antibodies triggered by drugs. Results showed that while the Lambda strain did show ‘ a partial resistance’ to vaccine-induced antibodies, this was ‘not likely to cause a significant loss of protection against infection.’
Is the Lambda variant more transmissible?
The Lambda variant, which is now Peru’s most dominant strain, has recently been labelled as a variant of interest by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after genome sequencing revealed ‘unusual mutations’ that could allow the variant more ability to evade vaccines.
The Lambda variant, also known as C.37, is characterised by two mutations in the spike protein L452Q and F490S, which could allow for increased ability to infect human cells. The NYU team discussed:
The Lambda spike protein contains novel mutations within the RBD (L452Q and F490S) that may contribute to its increased transmissibility and could result in susceptibility to re-infection or a reduction in protection provided by current vaccines.
Fears also mounted that the variant was more deadly than other strains. However, this has been widely debated and is largely down to doctors linking its spread to Peru having the World’s highest COVID mortality rate.
Researchers all seem to agree that more research needs to be done to confirm fears of the Lambda variant’s transmissibility. Professor David Livermore, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that so far, the NYU study shows no reason to be concerned:
Clearly we need to keep an eye on new variants. But, so far, there is no evidence of major spread of Lambda outside Peru itself and Chile.
He continued: ‘I have seen press assertions that Lambda "might" evade vaccines, but can find no evidence to support this claim in the scientific literature — rather [this study] indicates that it is neutralised by both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, with only a small reduction in binding.’
In short, it needs watching, but no good reason for special concern. It is very definitely not a reason to delay the UK’s Freedom Day.