C.1.2: Everything You Need To Know About The New COVID-19 Variant
This new COVID-19 variant is worrying several countries, especially India, which is trying its best to avoid the third wave.
The New Variant
In a research paper, scientists have said, as mentioned by Bloomberg, the C.1.2 variant was first detected in May in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng. By August 13, it had been identified in six of South Africa’s nine provinces as well as China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, England, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
Over half of the C.1.2 sequences have 14 mutations, but additional variations have been seen in some of the sequences. The authors of the study noted, even though these mutations occur in the majority of the C.1.2 viruses, there is additional variation within the spike region of this lineage, suggesting ongoing intra-lineage evolution.
C.1.2 has more mutations than other variants of concern (VoC), and variants of interest (VoI), which have been identified globally until now. The research is yet to be peer reviewed, and currently remains posted on pre-print server medRxiv.
This variant is quite deadly compared to the earlier versions. It is associated with increased transmissibility, and reduced neutralisation sensitivity. Also, this variant can avoid protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines. But how does that happen?
The mutations N440K and Y449H have been associated with immune escape from certain antibodies, and these mutations have also been noticed in the C.1.2 variant. These mutations might help the virus evade antibodies, and immune response, including in patients who have already developed antibodies for the Alpha or Beta variants.
The other thing to note is that this variant is mutating very quickly, and according to a study, it can have 41.8 mutations every year. This is roughly 1.7-fold faster than the current global rate, and 1.8-fold faster than the initial estimate of SARS-CoV-2 evolution. Scientists said that other viruses like Alpha, Beta, and Gamma VoCs underwent a similarly short period of evolution.
Problem For India
The C.1.2 variant has not been identified in India until now. However, it is worrying because the nation is currently preparing itself for a possible third wave in the upcoming months. Since the study found that the current vaccines do not protect us against this variant, it is making us think, what if this variant expedites the arrival of the third wave.
Even though this variant is not detected in India yet, the easing of travel restrictions, and businesses, as well as, the reopening of schools, and the onset of the festival season, might pave the way for the variant entering the country. The Delta variant is already wreaking havoc throughout the world, affecting the recovery of the global economy. Now, this variant is spooking countries again, and all we can do now is take extra safety precautions.
The pandemic is definitely not over yet, and we should stop thinking that way. The vaccine alone will not be enough to stop the infections. As long as the virus mutates, we would continue to see more variants in the future, and we have to be prepared for them.