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Lambda Variant Turns Up in Japan, Linked to Olympics

Japanese health ministry didn't disclose case until after Games ended
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2021 12:48 PM CDT
First Case of Lambda Variant In Japan Linked to Olympics
File photo of a Tokyo Metropolitan government employee getting Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine shot at a vaccination center in the government building in Tokyo. The coronavirus spikes in Japan are at record levels.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

(Newser) – The delta variant is spreading in the population and in the news. But the lambda variant of the virus that causes COVID, which popped up in South America, is definitely attracting the attention of researchers, who fear it might be more resistant to vaccines than other variants. And now it’s in Japan, thanks to the Olympics, the Japan Times reports. A woman came to Japan from Peru on July 20, tested positive for the coronavirus but had no symptoms, and quarantined. By July 23, authorities new she had the lambda variant. But the health ministry didn’t release the results until after the 2020 Olympic Games were over.

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The World Health Organization calls the delta variant a “variant of concern,” but has labeled lambda a less-serious “variant of interest.” And, though COVID is surging in Japan after the Games, officials aren’t blaming the Olympics—or lambda—the Hill reports. But one Japanese politician, Masahisa Sato, was critical of his government’s failure to disclose the case. “If it was spotted at the airport quarantine, they should have announced it,” he said on a Japanese news program, the Daily Beast reports. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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