Children vaccination

Children between 12 and 17 can get vaccinated from the 20th of October Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

C.1.2: Vaccines effective against variant, booster shots a possibility in future, says health minister

Dr Joe Phaahla told parliament that vaccination still offers protection against the C.1.2 variant of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Children vaccination

Children between 12 and 17 can get vaccinated from the 20th of October Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

The Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that current scientific reports suggest that vaccination remains the country’s best hope against the new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa, C.1.2.


On Monday, 30 August, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the variant – which was first detected in May 2021 – is present in all nine provinces at relatively low frequency. “While the C.1.2 lineage shares a few common mutations with the Beta and Delta variants, the new lineage has a number of additional mutations.”

The C.1.2 variant is reportedly more transmissible and resistant to neutralisation, and causes more disease severity, according to the government. Despite this, the NICD remains confident that the variant will respond to vaccination.

“Based on our understanding of the mutations in this variant, we suspect that it might be able to partially evade the immune response, but despite this, vaccines will still offer high levels of protection against hospitalisation and death,” said the NICD. The institute stressed that vaccination must be combined with non-pharmaceutical measures – mask-wearing, social distancing, sanitising – for the utmost protection against the disease.

The Health Minister relayed this to the NCOP at a Ministerial Briefing Session on the country’s vaccination programme on Tuesday, 31 August.

“The NICD [National Institute for Communicable Diseases] and the professors from KRISP [KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform] were reporting… to the National Coronavirus Command Council this morning [and] the information at this stage is that this variant still responds to the vaccines,” said Phaahla


Phaahla said that that the information at hand suggests that we may require vaccine booster shots in the future but for now the government’s priority is to ensure that, the population is vaccinated against COVID-19 now.

“As to whether there will be boosters…the information at the moment does suggest that further down the line, we might require boosters. But that’s not really a priority for South Africa at this stage… [Ours] is to make sure no one is left behind,” said the health minister.