Genetics researchers who kept carefully tracking the new coronavirus variants claim that they’ve observed new lineage traits that may be an early sign of a new variant, as it was seen in Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.
The variant they are analyzing is known as C.1.2. It has been identified in South Africa and other countries in Asia and the Pacific, as per a specialized report.
They are not yet positive that the chain of mutations it experienced will make it more dangerous, but it features changes that made other variants increase their transmissibility and likelihood of dodging the immune system’s response to a certain extent.
However, extra mutations don’t necessarily mean that a strain is more dangerous, as most mutations actually weaken a virus.
However, in the slight chance that a combination of mutations makes a virus more efficient, there is a more considerable chance that a new mutation would cancel out all of the other mutations’ effects.
Penny Moore, a virologist of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, is part of the team that tracks the progress of the strain.
“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,” the team wrote in a report.
They also added that the variant had been observed throughout the third wave of South African Infections since May 2021, and it was also observed in several other regions of the globe, which is why they are keeping an eye on it.
In the past, the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 strains normally is associated with new waves of infection.
For the moment, the researchers can’t put a label on the new variant, as they can’t yet tell if it’s a variant of interest or variant of concern, which typically are more easily transmittable and have a higher tolerance to vaccines or treatments.