Many countries, including South Africa, have detected a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 – C.1.2.
According to a study conducted by medRxiv, this variant is likely to be more transmissible and might not provide protection even after getting vaccinated.
What is the new variant C.1.2? Is it more harmful than other variants? Should I be concerned? Here's everything you need to know.
What is the new C.1.2 variant?
From all the mutations detected so far, the researchers have noted that C.1.2 variant consists of more mutations than other variant of concern or variant of interest.
With a mutation rate of 41.8 mutations per year, the new variant has a mutation rate that is double compared to the present global mutation rate of the other variants.
When and where was the first case of C.1.2 reported?
The first case of C.1.2 variant was detected in May this year in South Africa, according to scientists from National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP).
What are the other countries that have reported cases of C.1.2 variant?
As of 13 August, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland have reported cases of the C.1.2 variant, reported Business Standard.
How is this new variant different from others?
As mentioned earlier, the mutation rate of this variant is double than the present global mutation rate of the other variants.
Scientists have also warned that the new variant doesn't provide protection to the vaccine.
"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," the study stated.
How many cases have been reported in South Africa so far?
In the last 28 days, South Africa has reported 3,08,747 cases of COVID-19. In total the country has recorded 2,764,931 cases with 81,595 deaths, reported Johns Hopkins University.
Should I be concerned?
Virologist Upasana Ray from Kolkata's CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical told PTI, "It could be more transmissible and has potential to spread fast. Since there are so many mutations in the spike protein, it could result in immune escape and, thus, pose a challenge for the vaccination drive worldwide if allowed to spread," reported India Today.
The new variant has already been recorded in countries like Mauritius, England, New Zealand, and China. With the easing of travel restrictions in India, the variant can be a concern.