A new variant of COVID-19 called C.1.2 has become a new concern as a study found that it could be more infectious and move “twice as fast” as other variants and be resistant to vaccines.
According to Australia-based Sky News, C.1.2 was first detected in South Africa in May 2021 and has since been found in England, China, Portugal, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases has conducted a study, finding that C.1.2, believed to have evolved from C.1, has “concerning constellations of mutations.”
“C.1.2 is highly mutated beyond C.1 and all other VOCs (Variants of Concern) and VOIs (Variants of Interest) globally with between 44-59 mutations away from the original Wuhan Hu-1 virus,” the institute wrote in a new preprint study.
“We are currently assessing the impact of this variant on antibody neutralization following SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa,” they wrote.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Aug. 30, epidemiologist Eric Ding from the Federation of American Scientists detailed numerous points of the new variant.
First, he stressed that C.1.2 “could be more infectious and evade vaccines.”
Ding said that the new variant has “mutated substantially” and is more mutations away from the original virus than any other variant detected so far worldwide.
“C.1.2 variant has somehow mutated so fast and far that it is now the FURTHEST MUTATED variant found to date! It has mutated the greatest genetic distance from the original Wuhan 1.0 strain – and implies potential troubles for 1.0 vaccines,” he added.
Ding said that C.1.2 has “a 1.7x to 1.8x faster mutation rate than the average of all other variants.
“Let’s visualize how much farther and faster the new #C12 variant is—it is much much faster in mutation rate and it has gained the farthest distance from Wuhan 1.0 strain (denoted by “0” distance). This means #C12 is the most mutant of all mutant variants found to date!” Ding continued.
The epidemiologist added that the study found consistent increases in the number of C.1.2 genomes in South Africa monthly, similar to increases seen with Beta and Delta variants there.
Comparing C.1.2 to the Delta variant, Ding said that the new variant from South Africa “also has a very low 8% fully vaccinated rate, but large past waves.”
“For those claiming vaccines are a major cause of these super bad variants—they are dead wrong. Unfettered spread of the coronavirus is what gives the virus more chances to practice in our bodies and learn to adapt against a body with no ready vaxxed immunity,” he wrote.
With C.1.2 variant, COVID-19 remains a concern for global public health nearly two years into the pandemic.
There are currently four variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, and four variants of interest: Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda, in circulation globally.