"The variant has 44 to 59 mutations which separate it from the Wuhan strain," a doctor says
A new Covid variant has been recently detected by scientists in South Africa and some other countries. According to experts, the variant called C.1.2 can potentially be more transmissible, compared to the previously found variants.
A PTI report mentions that C.1.2, deemed a potential ‘variant of interest’, was first detected by scientists from National Institute for communicable diseases (NICD) and the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) in South Africa, in May 2021.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a variant of interest is one with “specific genetic markers that have been associated with “changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralisation by antibodies generated against previous infection or vaccination, reduced efficacy of treatments, potential diagnostic impact, or predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity”.
The new Covid variant has more mutations than other variants of concern or interest that have been found worldwide till now. Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, tells indianexpress.com, “The variant has 44 to 59 mutations which separate it from the Wuhan strain. It can be highly transmissible and can cause severe diseases among those who are affected.”
Is it more harmful than the Delta variant? Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, additional director and HOD, pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad, tells the outlet, “It is slightly premature to say if the variant is more contagious or more deadly than the already circulating Delta variant. The data available so far suggests that it is not as infective and deadly as the Delta variant.”
In India, however, the government has recorded no cases of the new variant so far, according to ANI. “Although the variant doesn’t seem to be increasing in circulation in the present scenario, proper hygiene and safe social distancing measures should be followed by the people,” Dr Chatterjee advises.
Meanwhile, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, technical head, World Health Organisation (WHO) took to social media to address concerns about the variant. “@WHO has regularly been discussing with South African researchers about their work on sequencing throughout the #COVID19 pandemic. We are grateful for researchers in South Africa who first presented their findings on variant C.1.2 to the WHO Virus Evolution Working Group in July ’21,” She wrote.
“To date there are ~100 sequences of C.1.2 reported globally, the earliest reports from May ’21 from South Africa. At this time, C.1.2 does not appear to be [increasing] in circulation, but we need more sequencing to be conducted & shared globally. Delta appears dominant from available sequences,” she added.
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