New COVID-19 variant of interest detected in SA

Recently published research has revealed that the C.1.2 variant has been identified in South Africa.

On Monday, South Africa's National Institute of Communicable Diseases issued an alert on the C.1.2 lineage, stating that the variant has been detected in the majority of the country’s provinces, but the incidence is relatively low. "This variant has been detected throughout the third wave of infections in South Africa from May 2021 onwards and has been detected in seven other countries within Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. The identification of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants is commonly associated with new waves of infection”, the preprint analysis published read. C.1.2 is a Variant of Interest (VOI) to scientists because it has mutations in the genome that are similar to the Delta variant. According to the researchers, there are concerns that this VOI has been associated with increased transmissibility, neutralisation resistance, and disease severity.

Adding that, “This lineage was first identified in May 2021 and evolved from C.1, one of the lineages that dominated the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections in South Africa and were last detected in January 2021.” It’s too soon for the variant to be designated a VOI or a Variant of Concern by the WHO thus it does not have a Greek alphabet designation. WHO currently names four variants of concern, which are more easily transmitted, affect severity of disease or evade tests, vaccines or treatments: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, and four VOIs, Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda in circulation globally. South Africa is the continent’s hardest-hit country with more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases reported to date, of which at least 81,830 have been fatal.