New coronavirus strain has greatest mutation rate ever, research finds

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Recent research discovered a new coronavirus strain that has the potential to become a variation of concern — similar to the alpha, beta, and delta variants, which have wreaked havoc on nations across the globe with massive waves of new COVID-19 infections and fatalities in the last few years.

According to the research, the newest strain, designated C.1.2, is descended from the same lineage as the beta variety from South Africa and was first discovered in May 2021, according to the report.

The finding of a mutation so quickly after the discovery of the original strain, C.1, in January was "unexpected," but sampling and genome sequencing revealed that the C.1.2 variation "had changed significantly," according to the researchers.

According to the findings of the research, the C.1.2 gene has an exceptionally high incidence of mutation. The new variation showed between 44 and 59 mutations that separated it from the original COVID-19 strain, which is greater than any other variant of concern or interest at the time of testing.

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Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines at a senior living facility in Worcester, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021Fox13

The C.1.2 strain was discovered for the first time in South Africa in May, in the provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng. The newly discovered variation was discovered in June in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, as well as in portions of England and China, according to the research.

In addition, the C.1.2 lineage has been identified in six out of nine South African provinces (including the Eastern Cape and Western Cape), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland, according to the study's findings.

According to the researchers, the C.1.2 variety is continuing to grow rapidly every month. " When the C1.2 strain was first identified in May, it accounted for approximately 0.2 percent of all new genomes sequenced out of South Africa. By the end of July, that percentage had increased to 2.0 percent, "similar to increases seen in Beta and Delta in South Africa during early detection," according to the study.

The new variant exhibits spike proteins that are similar to those associated with higher rates of transmissibility — similar to those associated with the Delta variant of the coronavirus — and could potentially have characteristics that would allow C.1.2 to evade vaccine-induced immune responses, although further observation is required, according to the researchers.

It was discovered that about 80 instances of the C.1.2 coronavirus variant have been identified in Botswana and South Africa as of August 20, according to the research.

To track various new coronavirus strains, the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention categorizes them based on the strain's transmissibility and the severity of the disease it causes.

Strains such as alpha, which was discovered in the United Kingdom for the first time, beta, which was discovered in South Africa for the first time, and delta, which was discovered in India for the first time, are all of concern.

"Evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (such as increased hospitalizations or deaths), a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during a previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures" are all indicators of a potentially dangerous variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers highlighted that although it is too soon to know if the C.1.2 variation should be classified as a variety of concerns, it has many of the same features as the coronavirus's alpha, beta, and delta variants, which they believe makes it a variant of worry.

The discovery of a potentially delta-like variant is unwelcome news at a time when COVID-19 cases continue to average at alarmingly high rates in the United States and around the world, even though several approved vaccines are available to combat severe illness and death caused by the novel coronavirus.

Immunization reluctance among young people and those who have not been vaccinated, as well as delayed permission for youngsters to get their injections, are leading to an increase in the number of instances.

In the United States, about 61 percent of the eligible population has been immunized against the virus thus far.

As of today, according to CDC statistics, the current rolling seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the United States is 152,246, an increase from the previous seven-day average of 146,087 cases.

According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins Center for Infectious Diseases, the United States has reported 154,143 new cases and 1,588 fatalities caused by COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

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