As the United States struggles with the delta variant of the novel coronavirus, a new study finds that vaccines are ineffective against the lambda mutation that is ravaging parts of South America.
Researchers in Japan pointed out that the lambda variant, which first surfaced in Peru about a year ago, surged in Chile in the spring despite a high vaccination rate, the New York Post reported.
The study awaits peer review prior to being published.
Earlier this week, Axios reported a new study by the Mayo Clinic found the Pfizer mRNA vaccine was only 42% effective against infection in July in the clinic’s home state of Minnesota, when the delta variant became dominant.
The authors of the Japanese study on the lambda variant noted that at least 60% of Chile’s population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the spring.
“Nevertheless, a big COVID-19 surge has occurred in Chile in Spring 2021, suggesting that the Lambda variant is proficient in escaping from the antiviral immunity elicited by vaccination,” the researchers warn.
Currently, the lambda variant comprises only one-tenth of 1% of the cases in the U.S. so far.
“In addition to increasing viral infectivity, the Delta variant exhibits higher resistance to the vaccine-induced neutralization,” the authors said. “Similarly, here we showed that the Lambda variant equips not only increased infectivity but also resistance against antiviral immunity.”
Chile’s vaccine campaign relied mostly on the Sinovac Biotech vaccine, which, like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, uses a more traditional virus-based technology to produce antibodies.
Pfizer and Moderna use the Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology in which cells are instructed to make the S protein found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.
In a July 27 vaccine briefing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited a July 3 pre-print study that concluded the mRNA vaccine in particular is thought to effectively neutralize the lambda variant.
None of the experimental vaccines, which are being administered under emergency use authorization, have been fully approved by the FDA.
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