Travel: Expert discusses vaccines and Covid tests
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The World Health Organization (WHO) recently made the decision to rename Covid variants based on the letters of the Greek alphabet. This month, the WHO designated a new variant found in South America as a ‘variant of interest’ and it has been labelled the Lambda variant.
How many cases of the Lambda variant have been recorded in the UK?
So far, six cases of the Lambda variant have been reported in England, according to data released by Public Health England (PHE) on June 25.
All of the six confirmed cases are thought to be linked to overseas travel.
PHE has now designated the Lambda (C.37) variant as a variant under investigation (VUI).
What is the Lambda variant?
The Lambda variant has been detected by scientists in South America, including in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina.
Experts think the Lambda variant has multiple mutations in the spike protein.
These mutations could have an impact on the transmissibility of the variant.
However, it is thought further investigations are needed to fully understand the mutations.
PHE said it was carrying out further testing to find out more about the Lambda variant.
The latest PHE update stated: “PHE is carrying out laboratory testing to better understand the impact of mutations on the behaviour of the virus.
“All appropriate public health interventions will be undertaken, including additional contact tracing and targeted testing.
“Where cases have been identified, additional follow-up of cases, testing of contacts and if required targeted case finding will be deployed to limit its spread.”
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What are the symptoms of the Lambda variant?
PHE said tests were ongoing and there is currently no evidence the Lambda variant causes more severe disease or renders the current vaccines less effective.
The main symptoms of coronavirus the NHS advises people to look out for are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Most people with Covid symptoms will have at least one of these listed symptoms.
As some one in three people with COVID-19 do not experience symptoms, everyone is advised to get tested regularly to prevent infection being passed on to others.
Anyone who has Covid symptoms should self-isolate, along with any members of their household.
People with Covid symptoms should also get a PCR test as soon as possible to verify whether they have COVID-19.
What are the variants of concern?
Presently, only four variants are listed as ‘variants of concern’ on the WHO watchlist.
Variants of concern on the WHO watchlist include the Alpha variant first detected in the UK.
Also on the variant of concern list is the Beta variant first detected in South Africa, the Gamma variant first detected in Brazil and the Delta variant first detected in India.
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