New ‘most mutated COVID-19 variant’ found in South Africa
As per a new study that is preprint and awaits peer review, the C.1.2 variant may be more infectious and have the ability to evade COVID-19 vaccines currently available.
The study, conducted by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, showed that C.1.2, first detected in May 2021, had evolved from C.1 strain which was detected last in January.
The scientists discovered that C.1.2 has “mutated substantially” in comparison to C.1. The new strain also has more mutations from the original COVID-19 strain that emerged from Wuhan, China, compared to all other Variants of Concern (VOC) or Variants of Interest (VOI) detected across the world so far.
Not just South Africa, the presence of C.1.2 has also been confirmed in other countries like China, England, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mauritius.
Furthermore, the study says that the mutation rate (41.8 mutations per year) of C.1.2 variant is almost twice as fast as the global mutation rate shown currently by other variants.
The scientists said that this faster rate of mutation for a short duration is consistent with the evolution of Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants. This could mean that a single evolution event, which was followed by a spike in COVID-19 caseload, was behind the faster rate of mutation.
On whether C.1.2 is more dangerous than the currently dominant Delta variant, scientists say more research work is needed to confirm.
– DNA INDIA