The lambda mutations were recently said to be resistant to corona vaccines. Experts are now reacting to the sensational study from Japan.
Geneva / Berlin / Tokyo – The WHO has already classified four corona mutations as worrying: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. They have been shown to be more contagious, harder to control, or lead to more serious illnesses.
No wonder that a few days ago a new study on the lambda mutation of the virus caused a sensation. A Japanese team had published a so-called pre-print with the title “Lambda variant has higher infectivity and immune resistance”. However, the study has not yet been reviewed by external experts or published in a specialist journal – and experts are now calm.
Coronavirus: Lambda mutant goes “not really high” according to WHO
The WHO, for example, pointed to a currently not particularly strong spread of the variant: Covid-19 expert Maria van Kerkhove said on Wednesday: “It is not really going up, not even in Peru, where the variant was first discovered.”
The data from Japan are currently being overinterpreted, said the Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology, Carsten Watzl, on Wednesday at a dpa request. They did show that lambda was somewhat more contagious than the original virus in laboratory tests, but not more contagious than Delta (predominant in this country).
In addition, the term immune resistance is “simply wrong in relation to the data shown,” said Watzl. One must also say that no real lambda viruses were used for the investigation, but other viruses that only carry the so-called spike protein of lambda. Sars-CoV-2 thus enters human cells. Several of the new problematic variants show increased genetic changes at this point.
Studies on corona mutations: Lambda is “under observation”
In many studies, the laboratory tests how well antibodies work against corona variants. However, such experiments only allow limited conclusions to be drawn about the protective effect of vaccination in real life. The human defense is also based on so-called T cells. Against this background, protection against severe disease is likely to remain even in the case of increased infections through the lambda variant, said Christine Dahlke from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) on Wednesday in a video link.
A US team also presented results in a pre-print at the beginning of July, which indicated that the vaccines currently used also protect against lambda. Further corona mutations are under observation as so-called “Variants of Interest”: Lambda (C.37) was included in this series in June. According to the WHO, lambda has now been detected in 40 countries; the first evidence came from August 2020.
In Germany, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), lambda has been found 100 times in analyzes since the beginning of the year, which corresponds to a share of 0.1 percent. In the past few weeks, only isolated cases have been found. (dpa / frs)