How dangerous is the new variant found in South Africa and will the vaccines work against it?

Scientists in South Africa recently reported that they have found a new variant of the corona virus, which is rapidly mutating and can also circumvent the protection provided by antibodies.
Scientists said that this C.1.2 variant first appeared in May and since then it has spread to most of the states of South Africa as well as to seven other countries of Europe and Asia.

How is a new strain of virus formed?

The SARS-CoV2 virus is behind the spread of the corona epidemic. Changes in the DNA of a virus are called mutations. When there are more mutations, the virus takes a new form, which is called a new strain.
There are many reasons for the emergence of new strains of the virus. One reason for this is the continuous spread of the virus.
Every new patient infected with corona gives the virus a chance to mutate. In such a situation, the chances of variants increase as the patient increases.

Where was the first C.1.2 variant found?

The C.1.2 variant first appeared in Mpumalanga and Guateng states of South Africa. Cases were also reported in June in two other states as well as China and England. This variant has also been found in Congo, New Zealand, Mauritius, Portugal and Switzerland.
This variant is also attracting the attention of scientists because it is changing rapidly and the mutations that are happening in its genome are like many worrying strains including delta.

What is special about this variant?

The C.1 variant was prominently spread in the first wave of corona in South Africa. There have been a lot of mutations compared to this in C.1.2. The speed with which mutations are taking place in it makes it different from other variants.
Studies have shown that there are 41.8 mutations in C.1.2 every year, which is 1.7 times the current global rate and 1.8 times higher than the initial estimates of the development of pandemic SARS-CoV-2.

Alpha, beta and gamma were formed at the same rate of mutation

Scientists have also noticed this because alpha, beta and gamma variants appeared at similar speeds.
The study speculates that these mutations in the virus occurred while living in a person who had been ill for a long time.
According to the Indian Express, scientists have found mutations observed in C.1 as well as mutations in ORF1ab, Spike, ORF3a, ORF9b, E, M and N proteins of C.1.2.

Variant of concern not yet announced

Mutations in C.1.2 found in South Africa have also been observed in strains that have been declared as Variant of Concern or Variant of Interest. However, WHO has not yet declared it as a variant of concern or variant of interest.

Will the vaccine work against this variant?

There are some mutations in the C.1.2 variant, with the help of which it can dodge antibodies. However, concrete information has not yet been received in this direction and further studies are going on.
South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases has said in its statement that this variant can dodge antibodies, but despite this the vaccine protects the infected to a great extent from hospitalization and death.

Is there any need to worry about this variant?

World Health Organization (WHO) technical chief Dr. Maria Wayne Kherkov said that 100 sequences of the C.1.2 variant have been recorded worldwide and so far it does not appear that its spread is increasing.
“Right now the C.1.2 prevalence does not appear to be increasing, but we need to do more sequencing. The current sequence suggests that the delta variant is predominant,” he said.


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