Different variants of SARS-COV-2: Alpha, Delta, Iota, Lambda | Variants of Interest and Concern

The New SARS-COV-2 variant ‘Lambda’ was found in 29 countries of the world. It is likely to be more dangerous than Delta + but it is currently monitored.

People around the world are scared because of the Coronavirus and its new variants. Now a new variant of the coronavirus has been found in Latin American countries. It is named Lambda. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this variant was first seen in Peru in August last year. Since then it has spread to 29 different countries. But the greatest influence of this variant has been seen in Latin America. These include Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador.

WHO considered the Lambda variant in the category of the Variant of Interest (VOI). It means that every country keeps an eye on this variant. Because, if this variant spreads quickly, it will be added to the category of Variant of Concern (VOC). The Variant of Concern is such variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which has harassed the whole world. It also includes recently designated Delta and Delta + Variant in India.

WHO said in its weekly bulletin that the Lambda variant was first seen in Peru. Its risk level is currently in Latin American countries. In Peru, 81% of the covid cases are related to the Lambda variant among all the cases of COVID-19 detected. 32% of the total corona case in Chile is of the same variant.

Different variants of SARS-COV-2 Alpha, Delta, Iota, Lambda and Variants of Interest and Concern

Lambda Variant

Antibodies can also be dominated by this variant. The WHO suspects that this Lambda variant may be more infectious and betray the antibodies. From now on, the World Health Organization has started giving labels for the variants of Covid-19 which has spread all over the world. Simply, these variants are being named. It also includes the name of a variant that was also spotted in India in October last year. Now there is no controversy around the world about his name.

Lambda variant requires more research – WHO

WHO has given information that the transmission capacity of Lambda is too much than the Delta Plus variant. This variant can also infect the person who has taken the vaccine or developed antibodies from a previous infection. However, the WHO says that there is still no enough evidence about this. According to the organization, there is still more research needed to understand this variant. It is noteworthy that the world was Worsley affected by the Delta variant and due to its millions of people died in the second wave of COVID-19.

Different variants of SARS-COV-2

WHO differentiated different variants of the virus into Variants of concern (VOCs) and Variants of Interest (VOIs). Here is the list as of 15 June 2021.

Variants of concern (VOCs)

WHO label

Earliest detected in

date of designation


United Kingdom

September 2020

18 December 2020


South Africa

May 2020

18 December 2020



November 2020

11 January 2021



October 2020

VOI 4 April 2021

VOC 11 May 2021


South Africa

26 November 2021

Variants of Interest (VOIs)


United States of America

March 2020

5 May 2021



April 2020

17 March 2021


Multiple countries

December 2020

17 March 2021



January 2021

24 March 2021


United States of America

November 2020

24 March 2021



October 2020

4 April 2021



August 2020

14 January 2021

What are Variants of Interest?

Viruses have the ability to mutate in different variants. Among these, some variants may be more dangerous and spread easily than others. When any new variant appears with a specific genetic marker needs to be watched for different aspects like how it rapidly transmit, its severe effects for example of hospitalization or death, immunity response, diagnostic and therapeutic aspects, and whether it escapes from currently authorized vaccines for prevention of COVID-19.

When the variant seems to be more severe than it is monitored for the above-mentioned criteria and one or more appropriate public health action should be taken. These types of variants are classified as variants of interest.

What are Variants of Concern?

A variant of interest is labeled as a variant of concern when it has evidence of increased transmissibility and more severe form of the disease like more hospitalization and death, significantly reduced neutralizing antibodies produced by previous infection or vaccination, less effective treatment, and vaccines, and also diagnostic detection failure.

Currently, Delta and Delta plus variants found in India is a variant of concern while Lambda found in Peru is designated as the variant of interest. Presently, the Lambda variant is carefully monitored and when there is evidence of its severity, it may be designated as a variant of concern.

What is Delta plus variant?

In India among the many variants now, Delta plus or AY.1, has been watched very carefully due to reports saying that it is being much more capable of evading vaccines and antibodies. A variant is a mutated form of the original B.1.617.2 that is designated as Delta variant after disastrous second wave in India.

According to the World Health Organization, it is now the dominant strain globally also. Originally appearing in Europe, local Delta plus samples now show a key mutation (K417N) which makes it stealthier.

Last week, VK Paul who is a member of NITI Aayog said the government is carefully monitoring it. While experts and researchers aren’t yet sure of how infectious it is, apart from 20 cases detected in Maharashtra. Cases of this variant also have been found in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh.

What is the Omicron variant?

Pango Lineage B.1.1.529 was also named Omicron by WHO on 26th November 2021. It is declared as a variant of concern as it has a large number of mutations and increased transmissibility, and chances of reinfection. It has a potential reduction in neutralization in some EUA monoclonal antibody treatment and post-vaccination sera. Presently very little evidence and studies are available and studies are going on about this variant on its transmissibility, mortality rate, and many other factors.

It was first identified by scientists in South Africa and Botswana. Later on, one or more cases were found in Hong Kong, Israel, Malawi, and Madagaskar and spread to other countries also.

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