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The New C.1.2 Coronavirus Variant and What We Know about it

The New C.1.2 Coronavirus Variant and What We Know about it

As the world continues its struggle with the Delta variant of the coronavirus, a new variant has been identified in South Africa. 

Currently known as the C.1.2 variant, the World Health Organisation is yet to recognize it as a variant of concern but, it has been drawing attention due to the number and types of mutations it contains and the speed at which it can mutate. It is reported to be carrying the most mutations recognized since the ‘original’ variant that emerged from the labs of Wuhan, China.

According to a study put out by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the C.1.2 variant was first identified in May 2021, in the province of Gauteng and Mpumalanga. It has since been found in other South African provinces as well. 

According to the study, there are multiple mutations being carried out in the variant and some make it more transmissible which may make it easier for the variant to evade the vaccine protection. This is yet to be formally concluded.

For a variant to be declared of concern by the WHO, it must show ‘increased transmissibility, virulence in clinical disease, or a decreased effectiveness of public health.”It is however too early to say whether it stands for the new variant or not.

For better understanding, Mutations are a part of the course of a viral infection that spreads as quickly as Covid-19. The more people the virus infects, the more it is likely to mutate. Most mutations are harmful to the virus and can render it defunct but every now and then a mutation that is advantageous to the virus can randomly occur. This can make the virus more transmissible, and can even make it partially resistant to vaccines.

The primary concern for the new C.1.2 variant is the speed at which it mutates and the number of mutations it contains. The reason scientists are closely monitoring the new variant is because of its similarity with the mutations that helped the Delta variant become the dominant variant seen across the globe.

Even though the cases are still low among the South African population, the variant remains a concern to the local public health experts and scientists across the world. Currently, Delta remains the dominant variant across the globe. For the new C.1.2 variant to dominate the world, it will have to outnumber Delta, which means increased transmissibility, being able to bind to human host cells and infect people at a quicker pace than Delta.

It remains to be seen whether this new variant is more transmissible than Delta or if it can partially evade the human immune response triggered by the vaccine or a previous infection.