A new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa in May does not appear to be spreading, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday, adding it was monitoring the variant as the virus evolves.
“It does not appear to be increasing in circulation,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing, adding the variant labeled C.1.2. was not currently classified as a “variant of concern” by the U.N. health agency.
The variant was flagged last week by the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation and Sequencing Platform in a preprint study.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases scientists on Monday said C.1.2. was only “present at very low levels” and that it was too early to predict how it might evolve.
While the majority of South Africa’s coronavirus cases are currently caused by the Delta variant, C.1.2 caught scientists’ attention because its mutation is almost twice as fast as observed in other global variants.
So far, the variant has been detected in all nine provinces of South Africa.
(With input from agencies)