Amidst the arise of delta and beta variants, a new variant of COVID-19 called C.1.2 linage, discovered in South Africa. Other countries like New Zealand, Switzerland, England, Portugal, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mauritius also have traces. This variant has globally alarmed the health experts.
Highly mutated C.1.2 variant in South Africa:
C.1.2 variant is first discovered in May 2021 and found to be substantially mutated in comparison to C.1 and other COVID-19 variants. South African National Department of Health and World Health Organization were frightened in July about the spread of this lineage.
The KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform and South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases conducted a study. The study proved that this C.1.2 variant has ability to resist currently available vaccines and is highly infectious.
It has global mutation rate of 41.8 per year that is two times greater than other variants. This rapid rate of mutation remained consistent from the evolution of Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants.
Virulence of the new variant C.1.2
This rapidly mutating variant might be a representation of frequency and spread of the variant in the South Africa. Studies found constant hike in the number of C.1.2 genomes from 0.2% in May, 1.6% in June and then 2% in July.
The authors said that this was similar to the surge seen in early detection of the Delta and Beta variants. Summative variations are identified in some of the sequences while there are 14 mutations for over half of the C.1.2 sequences.
“Though these mutations occur in the majority of C.1.2 viruses, there is additional variation within the spike region of this lineage, suggesting ongoing intra-lineage evolution,” the authors of the study noted.
As most of the available vaccines target the spike region of SARS-CoV-2 that enters and infects the cell of humans about 50% of spike mutations in C.1.2 sequences are priorly seen in VOIs and VOCs.
Ability to resist antibodies:
It was noted that all the mutations and variations in other parts of the virus is helping it to evade immune response and antibodies. This variant is also able to resist the antibodies in patients who were infected with Alpha and Beta variant.
The epidemiology and phenotypic characteristics of C.1.2 are still being defined and highlighting its lineage gives the relating data. “While the phenotypic characteristics and epidemiology of C.1.2 are being defined, it is important to highlight this lineage given its concerning constellations of mutations,” the authors added.
A reason not to worry about C.1.2 variant
According to World Health Organization this new corona virus variant which was firstly detected in South Africa seems not to be spreading. In a U.N. briefing WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said that it does not appear to be surging in circulation and C.1.2 variant is not considered as a “Variant of Concern” by U.N health agency.
Relation between beta, delta variants and C.1.2 variant
- While the C.1.2 lineage shares a few common mutations with the Beta and Delta variants, the new lineage has a number of additional mutations.
- Some of the C.1.2 mutations are seen in other variants of SARS-CoV-2 but the researchers suggested to be cautious about its implications as more data is being gathered to comprehend the lineage.
Possible affect of mutations to PCR test:
Over hundred specimens of this mutated lineage is tested all over South Africa. Available PCR tests have an ability to detect two varied SARS-CoV-2 targets serving as a backup for sudden mutations.
Protocols to be strictly followed to prevent C.1.2:
Partial immune escape is possible by this variant based on its data. So, vaccination still offers hiked level of protection against death and hospitalization. Arise of new variants may continue wherever coronavirus is spread. Vaccines slows down the transmission, reduces strain on health system and hence advised to remain watchful.
*Good ventilation in shared places
*Regularly sanitizing our hands and surfaces. These protocols are proven to stop the spread SARS-Cov-2 variants.