New SARS C.1.2 Variant Detected
And this variant has the potential to be extremely transmissible and deadly.
To understand the threat of variants and their associated mutations, it is critical to first understand the mechanism. Spike proteins are how some viruses penetrate potential host cells and therefore infiltrate the cell and reproduce themselves in that host. In the case of SARS, the host is us, amongst several other animals that are susceptible to coronaviruses. This particular variant has 25 spike protein mutations, only 13 of them have been previously noted in other variants. The problem with the 12 unknowns in this scenario lies in potentiation. If the immune system is relatively familiar with the 13 mutations through community-acquired or vaccination acquired the recognition of these spike proteins, that leaves 12 unknowns that have an unlimited potential to mutate with equally mysterious outcomes.
One of the more interesting qualities of this variant is that it binds to the host cells at a site that has been previously unseen in other variants that we have identified and studied thus far. The simple translation of this fact is that this means vaccines or community-acquired immunity have likely not been able to create antibodies for this type of mutation. This, amongst other key and complicated factors related to binding sites and protein outcomes in the body, means that this variant has the potential to be extremely transmissible.
Determining The Potential For Spread
A mutation clock is a reference point that researchers utilize to determine multiple outcomes, not the least of which is the potential for this variant to develop mutations. According to a preprint article published August 24, 2021 that is pending peer review, the mutation clock of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain that ignited the pandemic beginning in late 2019, the evolutions for mutations were approximately “24 substitutions per year”. With the emerging variant C.1.2, those evolutions nearly double to 41.8. In other words, this variant has the potential mutagenic possibility that is twofold the original strains that rocked the globe in 2021. This does not always translate to more digestible factors like transmissibility or morbidity. However, the rate of mutation has a great deal to do with complicating immunity and developing medications and vaccines to fight diseases.
The C.1 mutation was last noted in January of 2021 with a different binding sequence that waned over the course of the year. However, C.1.2 is a starkly different mutation with binding points that are potentially devastating. This variant has, in the last month, spread to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland. The variant is now spreading toward port areas and high travel areas on the continent and elsewhere. Rendering the potential for more human traffic to ensure its continued growth concerning.