A new coronavirus variant with multiple mutations has been found in South Africa, but scientists are yet to determine whether it is more contagious or able to overcome immunity provided by vaccines or prior infection.
According to research which has not yet been peer reviewed, the new variant, known as C.1.2, was first detected in May and has spread to most of South Africa as well as seven other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.
Scientists are not yet sure how the virus is affected by the mutations found in other variants associated with increased transmissibility and reduced sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies. We are conducting laboratory tests to determine how well antibodies can neutralize the variant.
It was the first country to detect the Beta variant, one of only four deemed to be “of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Beta is believed to spread more easily than the original form of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and vaccines do not seem to work as well against it, which has led some countries to restrict travel to and from South Africa.