South African scientists are monitoring a new variant of the corona virus with an abnormal mutation rate and its frequency has been steadily increasing in recent months, the National Institute of Epidemiology of South Africa (NICT) said on Monday.
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This variant, known as C.1.2, was reported last week in an unpublished study by the KwaZulu-Natal (Crisp) research, innovation and hierarchy site (Crisp).
The majority of Govt-19 infections in South Africa are currently caused by delta variation – first identified in India – C.1.2 attracted the attention of scientists because it changes twice as fast as other types already observed.
So far, C.1.2 has been found in all South African provinces and elsewhere in the world, including China, Mauritius, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
However, unlike the delta and beta variants that appeared in South Africa in 2020, it is not uncommon to qualify as a “variation of interest” or a “worry variant” – both of which are highly contagious.
NICT scientists on Monday confirmed that C.1.2 is “only at a very low level” and that it is too early to determine its evolution.
“At this point, in terms of sensitivity to antibodies, we have no experimental data to confirm how it responds,” explained Penny Moore, a researcher at NICD.
But “we have considerable hope that the vaccines distributed in South Africa will protect us from serious cases and deaths,” he added.
South Africa is the most affected country on the African continent, with 2.7 million cases so far, including 81,830 deaths.
The beta variant is in the form of a second wave of contaminants, which affected the country in December and January and is now facing a third wave, dominated by the delta type.
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