Specialist: New coronavirus variant unlikely to cause surge in cases in SA

Infectious diseases specialist, Doctor Richard Lessels, said the new SARS-CoV-2 variant – known as C.1.2 - was not increasing in prevalence in the country.

FILE: SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab, SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - There's a new coronavirus mutation, but genomic sequencing data of the C.1.2 coronavirus variant shows it's unlikely to become as prevalent as the Delta variant.

The C.1.2 lineage was first detected in South Africa in May.

Infectious diseases specialist at UKZN's KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP), Doctor Richard Lessels, said this SARS-CoV-2 variant was not increasing in prevalence.

“It doesn’t seem able to compete with the Delta variant at a population level. Obviously, we will continue to monitor that, and look out for it, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to take off or cause any resurgence in infections.”

The data compiled by the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation has, however, not been peer-reviewed yet.

Lessels said based on their sampling, the Delta variant was causing over 95% of COVID-19 cases at present.

“It has what we call a transmission advantage of around 40 to 50% or so over the Beta variant and that is consistent with data from other groups from other countries from around the world.”

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