Covid-19 Lambda variant yet to be detected in Sarawak, Malaysia or neighbouring countries

A stethoscope. - file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

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KUCHING, Aug 5: There is no record of the Lambda (C.37) Covid-19 variant of interest (VOI) being detected either in Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia or neighbouring countries in the region just yet.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) director Prof Dr David Perera disclosed this today in his latest report to State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Dr Perera thus urged the people in the State not to be unduly alarmed and to continue to observe standard operating procedures (SOPs) strictly.

He said the IHCM “is committed to working closely with SDMC through the institute’s SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Variant Sequencing surveillance programme to inform the general public of the entry of any new VOI or Variants of Concern (VOC) into Sarawak.”

VOI is a variant with specific generic markers that are predicted to affect transmission, diagnostics, therapeutics or immune escape, and proven to be the cause of an increased proportion of cases or unique outbreak clusters.

VOC, on the other hand, is a variant that is evidently “stronger” in terms of its higher transmissibility, severity, resistance against antibodies, treatments, vaccines, and diagnostic detention failure rate.

Eta (B.1.525) and Kappa (B.1.617.1) are examples of VOIs while the infamous Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Delta (B.1.617.2) and Gamma (P.1) are categorised as VOCs.

“However, we would like to advise the public on the seriousness of following the SOPs. This is to prevent any increase in virus transmission which may potentially lead to the emergence of new VOI or VOC.

“This becomes more important as we slowly move to Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP),” said Dr Perera.

More on Lambda, he said the earliest documented sample of this variant was from Peru in December, 2020, and it was only officially designated as a VOI by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in June last year.

“To-date, this VOI has been detected predominantly in South America (over 2,000 cases reported), in the USA (over 1,000 cases), Europe (less than 350 cases) and more recently in India (six cases).

“In Asia, single case importations have been reported in Japan, Australia and Bangladesh,” he added. — DayakDaily