South African scientists have confirmed that there is a new COVID-19 variant called C.1.2.
The C.1.2. variant was first identified in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng in May 2021.
This variant is an evolution from C.1., which is a coronavirus lineage that dates back to the wild spread of COVID-19 infections across South African in May 2020.
This new variant was detailed in a preprint study published in early August by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing platform.
According to scientists, the C.1.2. variant is between 44 and 59 mutations away from the original virus that was detected in Wuhan, China.
It is now more mutated more than any other identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), as a variant of concern or variant of interest.
Mutations are classified as variants of interest by the WHO if they are identified as being more severe or transmissible.
The latest mutations of this variant have been associated with increased transmissibility and a heightened ability to evade antibodies in any other variants before its kind, however, their impacts on the virus are not yet fully known
Infectious disease specialist, Richard Lessells said that “C.1.2. may have more immune evasion properties than the super-prevalent delta variant.”
“But the new variant is still very much under review,” Lessells added.
The C.1.2. variant has since spread to six of the nine provinces in South Africa, as well as a handful of other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania.