CALGARY — COVID-19 continues to mutate across the globe – and the new Lambda variant has now been detected in Canada, and right here in Alberta, but just how concerning are new variants and mutations?
“The World Health Organization just declared Lambda a variant of interest, meaning that they’re just watching it to see why it’s overrepresented in Peru, and why it’s showing up in other places in the world. And recognizing, it has the ability to potentially become a variant of concern,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and associate professor at McMaster University.
Chagla says like every other variant, we should be aware, but here in Canada, cases are mainly linked to travel, and its transmissibility is not yet fully known, unlike the Delta variant of concern.
“The one that’s the most fit is the one that’s going to survive – we think we see that in the Delta (variant) now more than anything and so yeah the Lambda (variant) needs to be watched, but it may not really take off more than the setting of Peru where it may have just been over-dispersed cause of local transmission,” said Chagla.
As Alberta continues its full reopen, Chagla says we are fortunate to live where we do, with an abundance of access to vaccines, and protection.
But, he says people in countries with limited vaccines are not, and this is where the risk lies.
Unvaccinated countries are where mutations are happening, and this is where vaccine equity comes in.
“It’s really the global context – so for all of us who are worried about variant emergence – we need to get vaccinated and we need to worry about global vaccine equity.”
But Chagla says, the good news is, no variant we have seen so far is escaping the immunity of the vaccines, they’re all working to prevent hospitalization, death and severe outcomes.