South Africa has identified a new potential 'Variant of Concern' of the COVID-19 causing coronavirus. The new variant is assigned to the PANGO lineage C.1.2, said a recent study. According to the study, the variant can be more infectious than any other variant detected so far. However, a peer-review of the study and more information needs to be assessed to establish the nature of this variant.
Here is what we know so far about the C.1.2 variant of the coronavirus.
1- The variant was first identified in South Africa in May, and since then it has been found in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland as of August 13.
2- According to the report, C.1.2 is linked with increased transmissibility and reduced neutralisation sensitivity" and has mutated substantially than its parent lineage.
3- The C.1.2 variant is believed to be evolved from the C.1 lineage and is a highly mutated form of the original virus detected in Wuhan than any other Variant of Concern (VOC) or VOI detected so far worldwide. This means it is far mutation away from its counterparts.
4- There have been constant increases in the number of C.1.2 genomes in South Africa each month, rising from 0.2% in May to 1.6% in June and about 2% in July. The researchers stated that it is similar to the increases seen in Beta and Delta in South Africa during early detection.
5- C.1.2 lineage of the coronavirus has a mutation rate of about 41.8 mutations per year.
6- About 52%, more than half, of the mutations in the spike region of the C.1.2 sequences have previously been seen in other VOCs and VOIs like Delta, Alpha, Beta, etc.
7- About 80 sequences that match the C.1.2 lineage have been listed on the open-access database GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) as of August 8, 2021.
8- The mutations N440K and Y449H, which have been linked with an immune escape from certain antibodies, have also been noticed in C.1.2 variant.
(Immune escape is when someone is unable to respond to an infectious agent or the host's immune system is no longer able to recognise and eliminate a virus.)
9- Its parent lineage C.1 variant was responsible for the first deadly wave of coronavirus in South Africa. The C.1 variant was last detected in January 2021.
10- The research that studies the C.1.2 variant is still to be peer-reviewed.