THE Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) says Zimbabwean scientists have not detected the Lambda variant as yet, a highly infectious coronavirus strain which was first reported in Peru.
By Michael Gwarisa
The reaction comes as a response remarks by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) executive director, Adrian Puren where he said the variant was circulating in other countries in Africa including Zimbabwe but was yet to be detected in South Africa.
In an interview with HealthTimes, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) spokesperson, Mr Donald Mujiri said the Lambda variant was yet to be confirmed by local scientists and they were still carrying out genomic sequencing to determine the number of variants present in Zimbabwe.
What happens in that our scientists go on the ground whenever we classify a place as a COVID-19 hotspot. They go and take samples and run tests to determine which variants will be dominating that particular area. At the moment the strain that is more dominant in the country is the B167.2 that was dominant in India,” said Mr Mujiri.
He added that local scientists don’t take samples from other countries but only those from the areas that would have been affected and reported high cases.
“We trust your Genomic Sequencing. When that case was reported in Kwekwe from a returnee who had arrived from India, our team of scientist went there and confirmed that indeed it was the variant from India. There is not something we can to hide, this is COVID-19 and if we detected a new variant detected we will announce so as to ensure that our people know what they are dealing with.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) added the Lambda, another COVID strain to its list of coronavirus variants to keep an eye on. This particular variant has so far spread to more than two dozen countries, with a heavy concentration in South America.
Originally identified in Peru last year, the Lambda variant is responsible for 82% of new COVID cases in Peru over the past two months. About a third of cases in Chile over the same time frame were also caused by the Lambda strain, and the U.K. is among the countries that have seen a smattering of cases. In mid-June, it was first deemed a variant of interest by the WHO—a designation given to a variant which may be more transmissible than the original strain, has caused.