Coronavirus, kappa and lambda variants: what we know


Kappa is widespread in various countries and in some cases limited also in Italy. Lambda, found in Peru, has so far been found in the UK

Image by PIRO4D on Pixabay

The list of new ones variants of the coronavirus it goes away by lengthening. So much so that now some might ask: just one will be enough alphabet? In addition to the delta, two other variants are now under the lens of scientists as carriers of changes in the structure of the virus which may prove relevant. It is about the kappa and lambda variants, presented in thelist of the new viral forms of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Ecdc). Variants under observation, which are not yet a source of concern but certainly of attention. Here’s what we know so far about kappa and lambda.

Kappa and lambda, variants “Of interest”

According to classification of the World Health Organization (WHO), for now in the three risk levels of the variants (“of interest”, “of concern” and “with significant consequences”), the alpha variant (formerly English), the beta (formerly South African ), the gamma (formerly Brazilian) and the delta (formerly Indian) fall into the second step, that of concern, because the associated forms of Covid-19 have been found to be more contagious and difficult to treat. Kappa e lambdainstead, they are for now variants “of interest “, given that the spread is fortunately limited even if they could still be associated – but for now these are only hypotheses to be verified – with greater transmissibility, with significant changes in the viral structure or with the fact that the virus can escape the immune response .

The kappa variant

Proceeding in alphabetical order, according to the Greek alphabet, the variant kappa, in abbreviation B.1.617.1, one of the subtypes of the variant B.1.617 delta (formerly Indian), it has in particular two mutated viral chains that make it different. The first noteworthy mutation is the E484Q, which is similar to another already known, the E484K, present in the beta (formerly South African) and gamma (formerly Brazilian) variants. The second mutation that distinguishes it is the L452R, also present in the variant discovered in the California southern, which could help kappa avoid the attack of our immune system. Identified as early as December 2020 in India (also like the delta) kappa is responsible for some outbreaks and epidemics in various countries. Also in Italy some cases are reported, although in the peninsula the diffusion of the delta variant is at 22.7% (as of 2 July) it remains higher.

The lambda variant

First identified in Peru in August 2020, June 17, 2021 was included among variants “of interest” by the WHO and today it is widespread in 29 countries, 7 of which are in South America. In Peru it is now 82% prevalent and widespread, but has also been identified in UK in 6 cases, all traced and linked to international travel. In this regard, also due to the growing circulation in Europe, the WHO draws attention to the occasion of the Europeans on the importance of not letting your guard down and respecting all the rules to contain risks.

Meanwhile the Public Health England he put the lambda under observation among the Vui (variants under investigation) for some of its relevant mutations – L452Q and F490S – and for the increase in cases associated with this form. Currently in Italy there are no cases recorded to connect to lambda. In our country, alpha still remains prevalent with over 74% of infections (which in any case are in absolute decline), followed by a good portion to be attributed to delta, with almost 23%.


Categories:   Science

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