Scientists in South Africa have discovered a new type of novel coronavirus with many mutations, but they have not yet determined whether it is more contagious or able to overcome the immunity provided by vaccines or a previous infection.
The new variant, known as C.1.2, was first discovered in May and has already spread to most provinces in South Africa and seven other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania, according to research that has not yet been submitted for review by the scientific community.
It contains several mutations associated with other variants with marked transmissibility and low sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies, but these occur in a different mixture, and scientists are still unsure how they affect the behavior of the virus. Laboratory tests are underway to determine the extent of the variant being neutralized by the antibodies.
South Africa was the first country to discover the beta variant, and it is one of only four countries that the World Health Organization has classified as a “variable of concern”.
Beta is believed to spread more easily than the original version of the new coronavirus that causes covid-19, and there is evidence that vaccines have less effect against it, prompting some countries to restrict travel to and from South Africa.
The emergence of the variant shows that “this epidemic is far from over and this virus is still exploring ways to improve our possibility of infection,” said Richard Lessels, an infectious disease expert and one of the authors of the C.1.2 paper.
*Source: Brazil Agency
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