According to a study that is yet to be peer reviewed, the C.1.2 variant could be more infectious and has shown signs of evading protection provided by vaccines.
The study posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv on August 24 says the C.1.2 has mutated substantially compared to C.1, which dominated the Covid first wave in South Africa.
Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist and one of the authors of the research on C.1.2, was quoted by Reuters as saying that C.1.2 "may have more immune evasion properties than Delta", based on its pattern of mutations, and that the findings had been flagged to the World Health Organisation.
The study says the C.1.2 lineage has a rate of about 41.8 mutations per year, which is about twice as fast as the current global mutation rate of other variants.
The C.1.2 was first detected in South Africa in May. It has since been found in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland.
The C.1.2 is not yet a variant to follow nor a variant of concern, according to WHO.
It is not a single virus but a clustering of genetically similar viruses known as C.1.2. Researchers found that the cluster picked up a lot of mutations in a short period of time. Tt has 40-59 mutations more than the original COVID-19 virus.
Many mutations are associated in other variants with increased transmissibility and reduced sensitivity to neutralising antibodies, but they occur in a different mix and scientists are still examining how they affect the behaviour of the virus.
The C.1.2 has not been found in India so far, news agency ANI has quoted government sources as saying.
Mumbai's civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made RT-PCR tests a must for passengers from UK, Europe, Middle East, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
The new C.1.2 variant of Covid, found in South Africa, has become the new cause for worry in the middle of a Delta-driven surge in many countries. Scientists say the strain may have a greater ability to evade antibodies that protect the body.