PFIZER and Moderna vaccines ARE effective against the deadly Lambda variant, a new study shows.
The jabs work against the strain that is sweeping South America, and has been found in 30 countries so far.
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It has caused some concern among scientists that it contains a mutation that evades vaccines more easily – a common worry when a new variant emerges.
But, the latest study from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine shows Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccinations are effective against serious illness and catching the strain.
The authors wrote: “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.”
Of particular concern to virologists is the L452Q spike protein because of its potential to infect human cells like the L452R mutation in the highly infectious Delta variant.
Peruvian scientists noticed the variant in December when it accounted for “just one in every 200 samples”.
Eight cases have been reported in the UK – all of which were linked to overseas travel.
Public Health England declared it as a Covid Variant Under Investigation.
Lambda (C.37) is now being watched, due to several notable mutations including L452Q and F490S.
The World Health Organisation classified Lambda as a global Variant of Interest on 14 June.
WHO said it has mutations that increases transmissibility and potentially dodge vaccines, although there is not enough evidence to know for certain.
PHE is carrying out laboratory testing to better understand the impact of mutations on the behaviour of the virus.
In Peru, where it was first seen, Lambda now makes up 81 per cent of the cases there.
It has spread to Chile, making up 32 per cent of cases in last 60 days, and Argentina and Ecuador have both reported more prevalence.
Peru has suffered greatly with a huge death toll from Covid – which was revised following a review.
It is the country with the world’s highest death rate per capita, according to John Hopkins University data.
The Lambda variant has been circulating there since August, and is now the dominant variant.