Image via Adobe Stock
Image via Adobe Stock
Just a few weeks ago, South Africa was put on high alert by its scientific community, after a purportedly ‘more infectious’ strain of COVID-19 was detected within our borders. The C.1.2 variant seemed to be spreading at an alarm rate last month – but recently, that momentum now looks to have completely disappeared.
Professor Tulio de Oliveira, one of SA’s most renowned virologists, has played a key role in mapping the emergence of different virus variants since the beginning of the pandemic. His team was the first to detect the presence of Alpha and Delta mutations in Mzansi, and in August, another troublesome strain showed up on his radar.
Some feared that the C.1.2 variant could fuel a fourth wave in South Africa, and take us back to square one ahead of Christmas. However, those who were peddling the doom may now have to eat their words.
That’s because de Oliveira has shared with us a genomic sequencing map, which shows just how prominent each variant of COVID-19 is amongst the public. From a high point of 2.5% of all cases in SA, C.1.2 now accounts for only a fraction of that – with the professor himself declaring that this form of coronavirus has been ‘extinguished’.
SARS-CoV-2 variants over time in South Africa – Beta has not been detected for months, Delta, the same as the U.K. and everywhere in the world, dominates >99%. C.1.2 has been 'extinguished. Variants are not related to the science related to the travel ban from the U.K. pic.twitter.com/04nQAApX7L— Tulio de Oliveira (@Tuliodna) September 18, 2021
There has not yet been a variant detected that can evade the efficacy of our COVID-19 vaccines. What is more, Delta remains the dominant strain across the world. Those who feel it’s important to immediately declare every new variant as ‘highly dangerous’ and ‘the most mutated’ as soon as they learn about it, well… they’re just plain irresponsible.
Variants will continue to challenge the way we respond to the pandemic. But nuance, patience, and extensive research are needed before any ‘celebrity scientists’ use their huge platforms to try and scare the population witless.
As it stands, C.1.2 is not an immediate threat to South Africa, and the relevant data is heading in the right direction.