A new variant of the COVID-19 infection has been found in South Africa as scientists in the country said the newly identified variant has a concerning number of mutations.
The new variant called C.1.2, according to scientists, has been found in seven other countries in Africa, Oceania, Asia, and Europe but was first identified in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng, where Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, are situated, in May.
South Africa has at the moment, a total of 2.76 million of positive COVID-19 cases and has recorded 81,595 deaths.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the mutations on the virus “are associated with increased transmissibility” and an increased ability to evade antibodies. “It is important to highlight this lineage given its constellation of mutations,” the scientists said.
Mutations are first classified as variants of interest by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Once they are identified as being more severe or transmissible, they’re termed variants of concern. The dynamics in the virus have driven successive waves of the coronavirus with the delta variant, first found in India, scaling up infection margins across the globe.
In Dec. 2020, the Delta variant, a highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, was first identified in India. It swept rapidly through the country and Great Britain before reaching the U.S., where it is now the predominant variant.
The research was published by South African groups including the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, known as Krisp, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
The beta variant was also discovered by South African scientists in 2020, but have been keen to stress that the country’s advanced ability to sequence the genomes of the virus means that while new strains may be identified in the country, they could have originated elsewhere.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had announced on July 8, 2021 that it had detected the highly infectious Delta variant.
A total of 1,866 cases were confirmed in the two weeks that followed, indicating a 154 per cent increase from the 735 infections recorded within the same period before the announcement.
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