South African Health Experts Detect New Most Mutated COVID-19 Variant C.1.2
South African health experts have detected a new coronavirus variant, C.1.2, which is likely to be more infectious than other mutations and has the potential to evade vaccines, reported The Daily Mail.
According to researchers from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, C.1.2 was first identified in May 2021 during the third wave of Covid 19 in the country. The virus variant has since been detected across the majority of the provinces in South Africa and in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland.
The scientists have found that the newly detected strain, which descends from the C.1 strain that was first spotted amid the first wave of the pandemic, has a mutation rate of about 41.8 mutations per year, which is almost twice as fast as the global mutation rate shown currently by other variants.
The study found there is a consistent increase in the number of C.1.2 genomes in South Africa on a monthly basis, increasing from 0.2% of genomes sequenced in May to 1.6% in June and then to 2% in July, similar to the increases seen with the Beta and Delta variants there.
The South African scientists have also found 14 mutations in nearly 50 percent of the variants which had a C.1.2 sequence. Additional mutations have been noticed in some of the sequences, suggesting that evolution within the lineage is ongoing.
They have warned the latest variant, which has ‘mutated substantially’, could help the virus evade antibodies and immune responses.
They said that further work is required to understand the exact impact of the mutation and to see if it gives the variant a competitive advantage over the Delta variant.
South Africa has reported over 2,765,000 coronavirus cases so far, including 81,500 deaths.