Everything We Know About The C.1.2 COVID-19 Variant

As the delta variant continues to surge throughout the United States and around the world, researchers have identified a new strain of COVID-19: the C.1.2 variant, according to one pre-print study, which is awaiting peer review, as of this writing. As USA Today reported, the variant was first detected in South Africa in May 2021. C.1.2 evolved from the C.1 variant, which was the dominant strain in the country during the initial wave of COVID-19 cases in 2020.

Although it is not very prevalent, it has caught the attention of scientists due to a few worrying characteristics. "It contains quite a few key mutations that we see in other variants that have gone on to become variants of interest or concern," Dr. Megan Steain, a virologist and lecturer in immunology and infectious diseases with the University of Sydney's Central Clinical School, told The Guardian. "Any time we see those particular mutations come up, we'd like to keep an eye on the variant to see what it's going to do. These mutations may affect things like whether it evades the immune response, or transmits faster."

Should you be worried about the C.1.2 variant?

This news doesn't necessarily mean that the C.1.2 variant is more deadly or transmissible than other strains of COVID-19 (via Health). While it is still too soon for the new variant to be designated a variant of concern or interest, there is no evidence to suggest that it causes symptoms that are any more serious or severe, as of this writing. Furthermore, by August 31, only 100 cases of the variant have been recorded so far across all of Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania. In other words, the C.1.2 variant is not yet widely circulating, unlike other strains of the virus.

According to Dr. Kevin McCarthy, an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research, this is relatively good news. The low case rate and early detection of the variant will help keep it under control to a certain degree. "If you can understand something about the virus, you can preempt its spread to a certain point, before it becomes a problem," Dr. McCarthy assured Health. "It's actually a really nice example of the public watching science at its finest." So for now, there's no need to panic or worry.