New Delhi: Just a day after researchers reported a new, more transmissible Covid-19 variant in South Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that this new mutant is not spreading rapidly at the moment and that the Delta variant continues to be of concern.
Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and Covid-19 technical lead at WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Maria Van Kerkhove, on Tuesday said: “To date, there are 100 sequences of C.1.2 reported globally. The earliest reports are from May 2021 from South Africa.”
“At this time, C.1.2 does not appear to be rising in circulation, but we need more sequencing to be conducted and shared globally. Delta appears dominant from available sequences,” she added.
The WHO also stated that if it characterised C.1.2 of any other variant as a variant of concern, the same would be widely shared.
“We are monitoring dozens of variants for potential transmissibility at the moment,” Kerkhove said.
She then went on to add that the more the COVID virus spreads, the more opportunity it has to mutate.
“We have the tools to prevent infections, reduce the spread and save lives. The WHO has been regularly discussing with South African researchers about their work on sequencing throughout the Covid-19 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 2021,” Kerkhove said while hoping to downplay any fresh anxieties on the front of C.1.2.
What’s the C.1.2 Covid-19 Variant
Earlier in the week, scientists from National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) in South Africa said the potential variant of interest, C.1.2, was first detected in the country in May this year.
C.1.2 has since been found in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland as of August 13, they had said.
According to the yet-to-be peer-reviewed study posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv on August 24, C.1.2 has mutated substantially compared to C.1, one of the lineages which dominated the SARS-CoV-2 infections in the first wave in South Africa.
The new variant has more mutations than other variants of concern (VOCs) or variants of interest (VOIs) detected worldwide so far, the researchers said.