New COVID-19 Variant Detected In South Africa
A new Covid-19 variant detected in South Africa and South African say the variant strain is already in circulation in most of the country’s provinces, as well as countries.
According to Professor Barry Schoub the C.1.2 variant first detected in May is still under investigation to determine whether it is more dangerous than other variants of concern.
"It’s a potential variant of interest. It is being investigated very intensively.
"The C.1.2 was first detected in May, it may have been in circulation before, but it was first detected in May in South Africa.
"In most of our provinces, in six of the nine provinces, it has been found. … in a number of other countries as well, Europe, Asia and also other African countries, like the DRC for example.
"So, it’s fairly widespread. It’s not confined to South Africa but was first detected in South Africa… at this stage, it’s still being investigated.
"Is it going to be more severe? Is it going to escape our vaccine? Is it going to be more contagious?
"These are unknown and they’re being investigated at the moment.
According to virologist and lecturer in immunology and infectious diseases with the University of Sydney’s Central Clinical School, Dr Megan Steain, the worrying thing about The C.1.2 strain is that it possesses mutations within the genome similar to those seen in the Delta variant, though it has not yet been listed as a variant of interest or concern.
"It contains quite a few key mutations that we see in other variants that have gone on to become variants of interest or concern,” Steain said.
"Any time we see those particular mutations come up, we’d like to keep an eye on the variant to see what it’s going to do. These mutations may affect things like whether it evades the immune response, or transmits faster."
"It will take some time for scientists to do the laboratory tests to see whether the virus is in fact fitter", she said.
"While we can say that it has a few key mutations that have led to other variants being more infectious, often what we find is the mutations work in synergy together which can overall lead to a fitter virus, potentially, or a weaker virus.
"All these studies in the lab take quite a while. There is a lot of work to be done."
Variants of concern, such as the Delta variant, are variants that have an increased transmissibility or virulence and a decreased effectiveness of public health and social measures.
Variants of interest are variants that have proved to cause community transmission in multiple clusters, and have been detected in multiple countries, but not yet necessarily proven to be more virulent or transmissible.