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New variant of Covid: South African researchers keep a close eye on variant C.1.2

The variant they are monitoring, called C.1.2, has emerged in South Africa as well as seven other countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the researchers report. They’re not sure if its constellation of mutations will make it more dangerous, but it has changes that have given other variants increased transmissibility and the ability to evade the immune system to some degree.

Having more mutations doesn’t necessarily equate to more danger – some mutations can weaken a virus and it is the combination of changes that determines whether a virus becomes more effective. One further mutation could negate the effects of another.

But the team – which includes virologist Penny Moore from the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases – says they’re keeping tabs on it.

“We are currently evaluating the impact of this variant on the neutralization of antibodies following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa,” they said. written in a report published online as a pre-publication.

This variant was detected throughout the third wave of infections in South Africa from May 2021 and has been detected in seven other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. ‘identification of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 is generally associated with new waves of infection. “

It is too early for the variant to be designated a variant of interest or variant of concern by the World Health Organization, so it does not yet have a designation in the Greek alphabet. WHO currently cites four variants of concern, which are more easily transmitted, affect the severity of the disease or escape testing, vaccines or treatment: Alpha or B.1.1.7; Beta or B.1.351; Gamma or P.1; and Delta or B.1.617.2. Variants of interest, which have disturbing mutations and have caused disease clusters, include Eta or B.1.525; Iota or B.1.526; Kappa or B.1.617.1 and Lambda or C.37, according to WHO.
Maria van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical manager for the WHO, noted that very few people diagnosed with coronavirus have been found to be infected with variant C.1.2.
“To date, there are around 100 sequences of C.1.2 reported worldwide, the first reports of May 21 from South Africa,” she said. said on Twitter.

“At the moment, C.1.2 does not appear to be increasing in circulation,” she added. She said the WHO would let people know on its website and via a press conference if that changed.

“The monitoring and evaluation of the variants are ongoing and of crucial importance to understand the evolution of this virus, in the fight against COVID-19 and the adaptation of strategies as needed,” she said. added. So far, the Delta variant is still dominant, Van Kerkhove said.

Some variants, such as Alpha and Delta, quickly spread to become the dominant variants in much of the world. Others have spread more regionally, notably Beta and Gamma. Others seemed disturbing but caused only sporadic epidemics.