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C.1.2 variant slow spread could be due to Delta immunity in SA

FILE – A man gets tested for Covid-19. 27.05.20. File photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

FILE – A man gets tested for Covid-19. 27.05.20. File photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 6, 2021


Cape Town – Leading South African scientists have found that the C.1.2 Covid-19 variant has not exponentially increased like the Beta and Delta variants, which could be due to increased population immunity from prior infections.

Principal medical scientist, at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Dr Jinal Bhiman said the C.1.2 variant remains to be detected across the country, but at low frequency.

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“We released functional data, showing that vaccine plasma still neutralises C.1.2, which is good news for Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines. We also showed that plasma, from individuals infected with Delta, neutralises C.1.2 relatively well,” she said.

In a study released last week on Medrxiv, Bhiman and a team of researchers found that prior infection with either Beta or Delta variants would likely confer some protection against C.1.2.

“Cross-reactivity between C.1.2 and Beta/Delta could be a result of shared mutations between these viruses. Though C.1.2 is present in South Africa and globally, we have not yet seen exponential expansion of this lineage, as was observed prior to local Beta and Delta dominance.

“This could be a result of recent increased population immune protection through cross-reactive antibodies, induced by prior Beta or Delta infections against C.1.2,” stated to the study.

In a report conducted by the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa (NGS-SA), results showed the Delta variant continues to dominate in all South African provinces.

Meanwhile, the frequency of the C.1.2 variant is currently at less than 3% of genomes, from May to September.

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“I can't say whether we are out of the woods. It’s so difficult to predict what will happen with this virus,” said Bhiman.

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