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New mutated strain reappears in South Africa with mutation rate twice that of Delta

Datetime: 2021-09-01 08:52:14

Reuters reported on August 31 that scientists discovered the C.1.2 variant in South Africa for the first time in May this year, and it has now spread to most provinces in South Africa. Since then, this new variant has been discovered in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Switzerland, New Zealand and other countries. .

The New Zealand Herald reported that a spokesperson for the New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed that in late June 2021, a case of this variant strain was found at the Auckland border, but the virus did not enter the community.

A study by the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases stated that C.1.2 evolved from C.1, which was one of the several lineages dominated by the first wave of new crown epidemics in South Africa.

The study also stated that the annual mutation rate of the C.1.2 lineage is about 41.8, which is almost twice that of other mutant virus strains. The study warns that what is worrying is the accumulation of additional mutations, which may also affect the virus' ability to evade antibodies and its infectivity.

According to reports, C.1.2 variants accounted for 1% of South Africa's native cases in June and increased to 3% in July. Researchers are concerned that the spread of C.1.2 variants may be more widespread than people think, because the infection rate continues to increase every month, which is similar to the spread of Beta and Delta (Delta) variants.

However, the CNN report also pointed out that more mutations do not necessarily mean more dangerous, because some mutations can weaken the virus, and some can offset the impact of other mutations. The research team, including Penny Moore, a virologist at the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases, said they are paying close attention to the issue.

Epidemiologist Richard Lessells, who participated in the study, said that C.1.2 may have more characteristics to evade the patient's immune response than the delta variant. This new discovery reflects that the epidemic is not over yet, and the new crown virus is still looking for ways to spread more easily. It is expected that more mutated new virus strains will appear in the future, but there is no need to panic at this stage.

On August 30, Harvard University epidemiologist Eric Ding posted on Twitter expressing concern, saying that the mutation rate of C.1.2 is almost twice that of other mutant strains, which means that C.1.2 is The largest mutant strain found so far. He also warned that super mutant strains may appear in countries with low vaccination rates.

Another expert warned that the findings of this study highlight the huge risk of countries abandoning epidemic prevention measures.

Screenshot of CNN report

However, Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease scientist at the World Health Organization, said that few confirmed cases have been found to be infected with the C.1.2 mutant strain. "About 100 cases have been reported worldwide, and there is no upward trend." If the situation changes, WHO will provide people with updates on its website and through press conferences.

Kokhov also pointed out that the monitoring and evaluation of virus mutations has been ongoing, which is essential for understanding the evolution of the virus, fighting the epidemic, and adjusting strategies as needed. So far, the delta mutant is still the main infectious virus mutant.

Anban Pillay, deputy director of the South African Ministry of Health, said in an interview with South African media that health professionals believe that the delta variant will not be the last one. “The new variant will definitely evolve naturally as a virus. Part of development".

The health official confirmed that South African scientists are "studying the effectiveness of the vaccine against C.1.2," and said that the Ministry of Health "expects some results to be announced in the next few weeks."

As of last week, about 17.6% of South Africa's 58.56 million people have been vaccinated with one of the three new coronavirus vaccines available in the country. The country’s health authorities have approved vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, but South Africa suspended AstraZeneca’s vaccination in February this year due to the weak effect of the vaccine on the widespread Beta variant.