The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) of the coronavirus that caused the second wave of the outbreak in India in April and May, is currently causing a rise in cases across the globe.
While the war against the Delta variant of Covid-19 is underway, two other types of viruses exist, namely Kappa and Lambda, which have put several health experts on alert.
The Kappa and Lambda variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were labeled “variation of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) in April and June, respectively.
According to WHO, “variation of interest or VoI” is a variant that has been detected causing the spread of COVID-19 communes/cases/clusters, or has been identified in several countries.
The two variants are said to have many changes in the protein increase, which is a factor that causes the spread of the virus.
Quoted by CNBC TV18, here are some things that were found regarding the Kappa and Lambda variants.
The Kappa (B.1.617.1), the sister of the Delta variant, has been found with more than a dozen changes.
This variant is said to be a “double mutant” due to the two changes detected — E484Q and L452R.
It has been found that Kappa’s L452R changes help the virus out the body’s natural immune response.
This variant has a sub-lineage — B.1.617.3 — which some health experts are keenly searching for.
Like the Delta variant, the Kappa was first identified in India.
That variance accounts for 3% of all samples sent by India in the last 60 days to Munich-based GISAID, which maintains a global database of the novel coronavirus genome.
India has so far sent the most Kappa samples to GISAID, behind several countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, and others.
The Lambda (C.37) coronavirus variant was first detected in Peru in August 2020 by Public Health England (PHE).
While no cases of Lambda have been found in India, some experts are concerned that international travel could bring the variant into the country.
In its June 25 report, PHE warned that Lambda has the potential to increase the spread and may have increased immunity to antibodies.
The variant is counted in the lineage B.1.1.1 and so far has spread to about 29 countries, the majority in Latin America.
At that time, the effectiveness of existing vaccines had not yet been tested on the two new variants.
Some researchers are sequencing the genomes of the variants to understand their signs and severity.
Delta is Still a Common Variant in India
According to the database organized by outbreak.information, of the total four VOCs (Variations of Concern) selected by WHO, three have been identified in samples isolated in India.
The most common is the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, which accounts for 31% of all samples shared by countries with GISAID.
The second common one is Kappa, which accounts for 16% of submitted samples.
Then there is the Alpha variant, with 13% of all examples relating to this variant.
The Beta variant, which was first detected in South Africa in May last year, accounts for only 1% of samples from India while Gamma, the 4th and final VoC selected by WHO, has not been identified in India.