COVID C.1.2 And Mu Variant: What We Know So Far
- Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
- 3 Min Read
- Fact Checked
The COVID 19 pandemic created havoc across the globe with multiple waves and more than a few countries are still facing the wrath of it. While we are hoping to see things get better, there are emerging variants that are causing concern. Mutations are inevitable in viruses – though most of the time, mutations are detrimental for the virus itself, few instances can lead to dreadful ones like the delta variant. While the virus continues to affect many citizens of the country, along with its variants – there is now a new virus on the radar. The COVID C.1.2 variant has started to create panic, but it’s important to understand the information that is known about the variant.
Why are we concerned about the COVID C.1.2 variant?
We have seen more than one variant in the past including the delta variant, which is responsible for the second wave. The new COVID C.1.2 variant was first detected in South Africa in May ‘ 21. It is from the c.1 lineage, which caused the first wave in South Africa. Now, it has spread to most of the parts of South Africa and also countries like England and China. So far, more than 100 sequences have been reported. There are around 44-59 mutations when compared to the original strain. While the number of mutations shouldn’t cause panic, the fact that the mutations involve multiple regions of the spike protein – the binding protein COVID 19 to the human body – is a cause for concern.
Similar mutations were seen in alpha, beta and delta variants which increased transmissibility and also evaded immune response partially. When a person is infected with COVID 19, antibodies are developed against spike proteins. The antibodies bind to the virus and deactivate it but these mutations may help the virus surpass the immunity developed by vaccines and also past infections. Though break-through infections are common, that is infections post vaccination, there has not been a variant, which surpassed the antibodies completely.
The rate of mutations is more than 40 per year, which is more when compared to other mutant strains, and this is what is worrying the medical fraternity. But we need to keep a watch on how the variant behaves in the coming days.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
The virus still is not considered a variant of concern by the WHO.
The delta variant is still the dominant strain across the globe. In India, cases of COVID C.1.2 variant have not been reported so far. With genetic sequencing, we can keep a track of the variant incidence in different places. The vaccine efficacy might decrease due to the mutations it has, but the vaccines still are effective in preventing hospitalizations and death.
Getting vaccinated is the need of the hour.
The more the virus replicates, the higher the chances are to develop mutations and cause resistance. The variant does not seem to be as concerning as the delta variant but it is too premature to comment if this variant will cause a concern – the cases need to be closely monitored. Everyone has an equal responsibility to follow the safety protocol like social distancing, hand sanitization and wearing masks. Should you exhibit any symptoms of COVID 19 – especially low oxygen levels – consult with a doctor online to get the right guidance. Not all COVID 19 infection cases require hospitalizations, some can be treated at home – a professional will let you know how to proceed. You can also take a COVID 19 tests to determine your infection status. Do not self-medicate or self-diagnosis, it could worsen things.
What We Know About The Mu Variant
Another variant which is being heard of these days is the Mu variant- first detected in Colombia in Jan 2021. It has mutations similar to the beta variant. WHO categorized this variant as a variant of interest and since there are multiple mutations, it can evade immunity like that of the Beta variant. Scientists are monitoring if it can cause a concern. Please watch the video below, to understand more about these emerging variant.