'C.1.2': New variant of Sars-CoV-2 detected in South Africa, researchers say
Researchers in South Africa have said that a new variant of Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), has been detected in the country. Variant, C.1.2, they warn, could be more transmissible and avoid protection offered by Covid-19 vaccines.
Scientists from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and their counterparts from the KwaZulu Natal Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) have called the C.1.2 a "potential variant of interest," which, they say, was first found in South Africa in May this year.
Since then, the variant has also been located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, China, England, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland, the researchers claimed, adding that C.1.2 has more mutations than other variants of concern (VoC) and variants of interest (VoI) which have been detected globally till now.
Their study, which is yet to be peer reviewed and was posted on the pre-print repository MedRxiv on August 24, further noted that the number of available sequences of C.1.2 may be an "underrepresentation" of the spread and frequency of the variant in South Africa, as well as across the world. It also found what it described as a "consistent" rise in the number of genomes of this new variant each month in the African nation, rising from 0.2 per cent of genomes sequenced in May to 1.6 per cent in June and, finally, to 2 per cent in July.
The authors of the research termed this rise as being "similar" to the increases observed with the Beta and Delta variants in South Africa during the early stages of their detection.
They also explained how C.1.2 evades protection offered by Covid-19 vaccines. "The mutations N440K an Y449H, which are associated with immune escape from certain antibodies, have been found in C.1.2 sequencing. These mutations combine with changes in other parts of the virus likely aid the latter in avoiding antibodies. This is true also for patients who have already developed antibodies for Beta and Delta variants," they wrote.
According to Johns Hopkins University, South Africa, in the last 28 days, has logged 308,747 cases of the coronavirus disease. The county's cumulative infection tally stands at 2,764,931 including 81,595 related deaths.
(With PTI inputs)