A new and more infectious COVID-19 strain has been found in South Africa, according to a recent study conducted by the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing platform and the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Called the C.1.2 and considered to be more advanced than the current Alpha and Delta variant, the new strain was first detected in the country back in May 2021. Scientists then discovered that the strain had mutated significantly from the original virus which was first detected in China.
The new strain has been detected in China, England, Mauritius, The Democratic Republic of Congo, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Portugal as well.
There have been several lineages of the COVID-19 virus since its onset in Wuhan. Among these, the Alpha and Delta variants have showcased higher infectivity than the original virus with increasing evidence that the vaccines and antibiotics administered for earlier strains are ineffective against the Delta variant.
The C.1.2 variant has a mutation rate of 41.8 mutations per year, which is approximately twice as fast as the current global mutation rate of other lineages, cited sources with relevant information.
Scientists also stated that a short period for heightened evolution was observed among Gamma, Beta, and Alpha variants which resulted in a rise in cases and faster mutation rates.
These mutations in tandem with changes to other parts of the virus primarily in Beta and Alpha subtypes might enable the new strain to evade immune responses and antibodies in patients that have already been infected by previous variants.
However, the impact of these mutations still needs to be studied thoroughly to decide whether the C.1.2 variant is stronger than the Delta stain.
In related news, the head of the Izmir Medical Chamber, Dr. Lutfi Camli announced a new lineage of the COVID-19 virus has been detected in Turkey. Around 50-60% of the reported cases in Rize province were found to suffer from this strain.