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VERIFY: How does the Lambda variant compare to the Delta variant?

As the Delta variant takes hold of the United States, another variant has popped up here: The Lambda variant.

WASHINGTON — The big cause for concern, right now, is the Delta variant, but there is another variant popping up: The Lambda variant. It is starting to circulate around the U.S.

The Verify team has received several emails from viewers asking about the new variant. What do researchers know about Lambda?

THE QUESTION

Is it true the Lambda variant is more deadly and more progressive than the Delta variant?

OUR SOURCES

  • Dr. Anna Durbin, an international health expert from Johns Hopkins University. 
  • Matthew Frieman Ph.D., a coronaviruses expert from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 
  • The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

THE ANSWER

We can not say for sure how the Lambda variant compares to the Delta variant.

WHAT WE FOUND

“I don't think we have enough data on Lambda quite yet,” Dr. Durbin said.

Both experts agreed we don’t have enough information on the Lambda variant yet to say if it’s more deadly or more progressive than the Delta variant.

Here’s what they do know:

“It was first identified in Peru and has been spreading around South America,” Matthew Frieman said. “There's a couple [of a] hundred cases of it identified in [the] United States right now.”

“We haven't seen, for instance, large outbreaks with this variant where we have vaccinated people who are being hospitalized,” Dr. Durbin said.

Both of our experts said, so far, Lamdba has not spread as quickly as the Delta variant in the U.S. Those few cases we have not shown to be deadlier than Delta. At this point, the CDC has not labeled the Lambda variant a "variant of concern."

But, they warn that could change as more data comes in.

“How well Lambda compares and is different than other variants are being studied now in very controlled lab experiments,” Frieman said.

Unfortunately, we won’t know for some time how the Lambda variant compares to the Delta variant.

Both experts explained there are a few things going on to study the variant. Currently, U.S. labs are sequencing the variants. At the same time, the CDC has teams on the ground in South America investigating the outbreaks. 

They expect more information to come out in the coming weeks.

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