People line up outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center as the country introduces vaccinations for anyone aged 18 and over on August 20, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. REUTER’S FILE PHOTO

JOHANNESBURG – South African scientists have discovered a new variant of the coronavirus with several mutations, but have yet to determine whether it is more contagious or can overcome immunity through vaccines or an earlier infection.

The new variant, known as C.1.2, was first discovered in May and has spread to most South African provinces as well as seven other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania following unreviewed research.

It contains many mutations that can be found in other variants are linked to increased transmissibility and decreased sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies, but they occur in a different mix and scientists are not yet sure how they affect the behavior of the virus. Laboratory tests are used to determine how well the variant is neutralized by antibodies.

South Africa was the first country to discover the beta variant, one of only four to be classified as “of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Beta is believed to spread more easily than the original version of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and there is evidence that vaccines are less effective against it, causing some countries to travel to and from Restrict South Africa.

Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist and one of the authors of the research on C.1.2, said his appearance shows us that “this pandemic is far from over and that this virus is still looking for ways, us possibly better to infect ”.

He said that people should not be unduly concerned at this point and that variants with more mutations would inevitably continue to appear in the pandemic en.

Genomic sequencing data from South Africa show that in July, the last month for which a large number of samples were available, the C.1.2 variant was far from displacing the dominant Delta variant.

In July C.1.2 accounted for 3% of the samples compared to 1% in June, while Delta accounted for 67% in June and 89% in July.

Delta is the fastest and fittest variant the world has encountered, and turns assumptions about COVID-19 upside down, even if nations relax restrictions and reopen their economies.

Lessells said that C.1.2 may have more immune evasion properties than Delta due to its mutation pattern, and that the results are on the WHO had been reported.

South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign started slowly, as only about 14% of the adult population have been fully vaccinated.

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