South Africa identifies new COVID-19 variant — 8 notes

Researchers have identified a new COVID-19 variant called C.1.2. in South Africa that appears to have similar mutations as other variants of concern, according to research published Aug. 26 in preprint server medRxiv

Seven more notes:

1. Scientists first identified C.1.2. in May in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng. 

2. The strain accounted for 0.2 percent of genomes sequenced in South Africa, rising to 2 percent by July. 

3. C.1.2. contains mutations that have been seen in other variants of concern, including alpha, beta and gamma, that "are associated with increased transmissibility and reduced neutralization sensitivity," the report said.

4. As of Aug. 13, the variant has been detected in six of South Africa's nine provinces, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland. 

5. C.1.2. is a sublineage of C.1. — the dominant strain during South Africa's first COVID-19 surge in mid-2020. 

6. "It has only been detected in around 100 genomes, a very low number," Dr. Tulio de Oliveira, director of Krisp, said during an Aug. 31 conference, Bloomberg reported. "It's still a very small percentage, but again we're really keeping a good eye on that. It has all of the signatures of immune escape."

7. The strain does not yet have a Greek alphabet designation because the World Health Organization has not deemed it a variant of concern or interest.


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