A coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa “may be more contagious” than other mutations and have the potential to “evade vaccines,” scientists say.
The C.1.2 strain, which has been linked to “increased transmissibility,” is more mutations away from the original virus seen in Wuhan, experts at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation said. and Sequencing Platform.
The virus was first identified by scientists in South Africa in May and has since been found in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland.
In their study, scientists found that the strain, which descends from the C.1 strain first spotted during the first wave of the pandemic, has a mutation rate of about 41.8 mutations per year.
The C.1.2 strain, which is descended from the C.1 strain first noticed during the first wave of the pandemic, has a mutation rate of about 41.8 mutations per year
This rate is nearly double the current global mutation rate observed in any other Variant of Concern (VOC) to date.
During their study, researchers found a monthly increase in the number of C.1.2 genomes in South Africa, from 0.2 percent in May to 1.6 percent in June and 2.0 percent in July.
This short period of constant rise has also been observed in the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants.
Scientists also found 14 mutations in nearly 50 percent of the variants that had a C.1.2 sequence.
While more research is needed “to determine the functional impact of these mutations,” scientists warned that the latest variant, which is “significantly mutated,” could help the virus evade antibodies and immune responses.
In their report, published in the journal Nature, the scientists said: “We describe and characterize a newly identified SARS-CoV-2 lineage with several peak mutations that likely originated in a metropolitan area in South Africa after the first wave of the epidemic, and then to have spread to multiple locations in two adjacent provinces.
“We show that this lineage has expanded rapidly and has become dominant in three provinces, while at the same time there is a rapid resurgence of infections.
‘While the full import of the mutations is not yet clear, the genomic and epidemiological data suggest that this variant has a selective advantage – of increased transmissibility, immune escape or both.
“These data highlight the urgent need to refocus the public health response in South Africa towards reducing transmission to low levels, not only to reduce hospitalizations and deaths, but also to prevent the spread of this lineage and further evolution of the disease.” virus.’
Earlier this month, a report from Public Health England said the C.1.2 strain was one of ten varieties checked by scientists in the UK.
In April, scientists discovered that another South African species — called B.1.351 — had the potential to “break through” the Pfizer jab.
Scientists examined 400 people who tested positive for coronavirus at least 14 days after receiving one or two doses of the jab – and 400 who tested positive without a vaccine.
The variant was eight times more common in those who had two shots than none. It was seen in 5.4 percent of people with two doses — but in 0.7 percent of people without.
Scientists working on the Tel Aviv University study said their results suggested the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant — compared to the original coronavirus and the Kent variant.
The B.1.351 has important mutations to its spike protein that scientists fear may be difficult for the immune system to recognize.
These changes open the door to resistance to vaccines, which train the body to recognize the spike protein, or natural immunity to previous infections.
Last month, health chiefs spotted another strain of Covid spreading in Britain, with 31 mutated strains now on the UK watch list.
Sixteen cases of the B.1.621 version of the virus – believed to have originated in Colombia – have been discovered by experts.
Public Health England insisted there was no evidence it was more deadly than Delta, which accounts for 99 percent of all cases in the UK.
And they also said there was no evidence that the strain makes the vaccines currently being used less effective.
The latest study comes as Britain recorded a further 61 Covid deaths and 33,196 new cases on Sunday, official data showed.
The number of new cases represents a 3 percent increase from last Sunday’s new daily cases, which stood at 32,253, while only 49 daily deaths were recorded.
In the past seven days, infections rose by 5.8 percent from the previous week, and the weekly number of deaths rose by 16 percent.
This means that the new positive test rate over the past seven days is 240,528, while the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is recorded as 797 – an increase of 110.
The Sunday fatality rate is usually lower than on weekdays due to a delay by some hospitals in reporting deaths.
Britain is currently registering around 30,000 Covid cases a day, which SAGE scientists fear will increase when students return to class next week. Last year around this time there were nearly 2,000 cases per day.
Delta Covid variant twice as likely to land patients in hospital, study shows
The Delta variant doubles the chance of hospitalization, research shows.
It was already known that the Covid strain first identified in India is up to 50 percent more transmissible than the previous dominant Alpha strain, which emerged in Kent.
But the largest study to date comparing the two shows that those infected with the Delta strain are 2.26 times more likely to be hospitalized.
Delta is also 1.45 times more likely to see people entering the emergency room who need emergency treatment.
Scientists claimed this is more evidence that the same traits that make the variant spread faster also increase levels of the virus in those it infects, making them more seriously ill.
The authors of the study, led by Public Health England and Cambridge University, said their results should be used by hospitals for planning, especially in areas where the Delta variant is on the rise.
dr. Anne Presanis, senior statistician at the university, said: ‘Our analysis shows that in the absence of vaccination, a Delta outbreak will place a greater burden on health care than an alpha epidemic.
“Getting fully vaccinated is primarily critical to reducing an individual’s risk of symptomatic infection with Delta and, most importantly, reducing a Delta patient’s risk of serious illness and hospitalization.”