A new COVID-19 variant that researchers have flagged as “concerning” due to the large number of mutations it possesses does not appear to be spreading, according to the World Health Organization.
The statements were made in a briefing Tuesday, according to Reuters.
“It does not appear to be increasing in circulation,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris, who added that the variant was also not classified yet as a “variant of concern.”
The United Nations’ health agency also confirmed that it would be monitoring the variant as the pandemic progressed.
The variant, named C.1.2, was first discovered in South Africa in May, and has spread to a majority of the country’s provinces and seven other countries so far.
In a study published last week, South African scientists raised concern over the variant due to the large number of mutations it possessed — including some associated with increased transmissibility and resistance to antibodies fighting the disease.
A news release sent out Monday from South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that the C.1.2 lineage had several mutations in other COVID-19 variants of concern or interest, as well as other mutations which were “novel.”
“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, that vaccines will still offer high levels of protection against hospitalization and death,” read the release.
Van Kerkhove added that Delta, an extremely transmissible variant of COVID-19 that has driven new waves of the pandemic in Canada and across the world, appeared to still be the more dominant variant based on available sequences.