In a new development, scientists have said that a coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa “could be more infectious” than other mutations and have the potential to “evade vaccines.”
The C.1.2 strain has been linked to “increased transmissibility,” experts at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform said, the Daily Mail reported.
The virus was first identified by scientists in South Africa in May and has since been found in England, New Zealand, China, Mauritius, Portugal, Switzerland, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The C.1.2 strain descends from the C.1 strain. It has around 41.8 mutations per year, nearly double the current global mutation rate in any other variant. Since its discovery in May, there has been a steady monthly increase until July as to its genomes. Scientists are warning that although they still need more research to determine the impact of this specific mutation, the latest variant will most likely evade antibodies and immune responses, have increase transmissibility, or both.
In a report, which was published in the journal Nature, the scientists said: “These data highlight the urgent need to refocus the public health response in South Africa on driving transmission down to low levels, not only to reduce hospitalizations and deaths but also to limit the spread of this lineage and the further evolution of the virus.”
Earlier this month, a report published by Public Health England said that the C.1.2 strain was among 10 variants being monitored by scientists in the United Kingdom. They added that as of now, the mutation that causes many deaths is Delta as it makes up 99 percent of all the COVID-19 cases in the country.