To stay up to date with African news, subscribe to the “World Africa” newsletter from this link. Every Saturday at 6 am, find a week of current events and debates treated by the editorial staff of “Monde Afrique”.
South African scientists are monitoring a new variant of the coronavirus with an unusual mutation rate and whose frequency has gradually increased in recent months, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases of South Africa (NICD) said on Monday (August 30th). .
The variant, known as “C.1.2” was reported last week by the Kwazulu-Natal Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) in an as yet unpublished study.
While the majority of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infections in South Africa are currently caused by the Delta variant – first identified in India – C.1.2 has caught the attention of scientists because it mutates almost twice as fast as other variants already observed.
So far, C.1.2 has been detected in all South African provinces, as well as elsewhere in the world, including China, Mauritius, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“Present at very low levels”
However, it is not frequent enough to qualify as “Variant of interest” or from “Disturbing variant”, as are the Delta and Beta variants – which appeared in South Africa in 2020 – both highly contagious.
NICD scientists assure Monday that C.1.2 is “Present only at very low levels” and that it is too early to determine its evolution. “At this stage, we have no experimental data to confirm how it reacts in terms of sensitivity to antibodies, explained NICD researcher Penny Moore. We have considerable confidence that the vaccines distributed in South Africa will continue to protect us against severe cases and death. “
South Africa is the most affected country on the African continent, with 2.7 million cases of contamination recorded so far, of which 81,830 have been fatal.
The Beta variant was at the origin of a second wave of contamination which affected the country in December and January, now facing a third wave, very quickly dominated by the Delta variant.