The highly infectious Delta variant continued being the “dominant variant” in South Africa and the driver of the third wave, as the newly detected C.1.2 variant was present at very low levels, scientists said.

“The Delta variant was still the most dominant variant with the new variant C.1.2 being detected at low frequency,” said Dr Jinal Bhiman, Principal Medical Scientist at National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) at a new conference on Monday night, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The new C.1.2 variant was detected in May and has been detected in all nine provinces at less than 3 per cent frequency. However scientists said it was still being “assessed” at various laboratories.

“It has been increasing in frequency but it remains low in frequency,” Bhiman said.

NICD’s acting executive director Prof Adrian Puren said that the vaccines being rolled out in South Africa would protect people against the variant even though more research was still being conducted.

“The intention is not to create any panic,” he said, adding that “our vaccines are potent and effective in terms of preventing severe diseases and deaths.”

The scientists said the new variant could only be classified once it has been named a variant of interest.



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