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Solante: C.1.2 COVID-19 variant still not a concern but may be highly transmissible

The C.1.2 COVID-19 variant, which originated in South Africa, has yet to be tagged as a variant of interest (VOI) and a variant of concern (VOC) but may be highly infectious, an expert said on Monday.

Infectious diseases and tropical medicine expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said some studies showed that the C.1.2 variant had a mutation of spike protein just like other coronavirus variants.

"Mayroon siyang mutation sa spike protein, kagaya noong nakita sa Alpha, Beta, at Gamma. Ibig sabihin mabilis kumakapit doon sa host cell... so ibig sabihin na may implication siya na puwede maging highly transmissible siya," Solante said over Super Radyo dzBB when asked about information on the new variant.

[It has mutations in its spike protein just like Alpha, Beta and Gamma. It means it sticks quickly to the host cell... so it means there is an implication that it might be highly transmissible.]

Some data indicated that the C.1.2 variant could have similar mutations in its spike protein that could reduce the efficacy of antibodies from vaccines, Solante said.

"May nakitang mutations sa parte ng spike protein na may kahawig sa variants of concern at variant of interest na puwedeng mabawasan ang antibody o bisa ng antibody sa mga bakuna," Solante said.

[They found mutations in the part of the spike protein that are similar to the variants of concern and variants of interest that might reduce the efficacy of antibodies from vaccines.]

Solante said experts were expected to reveal more data to determine whether the new variant will be classified as a variant of interest or concern.

"They are monitoring it and siguro hintayin natin kung mayroong additional data sila in the next few days or few weeks, para makita natin kung it is another variant na makahanay sa variant of interest or  sana naman hindi doon sa variant of concern," Solante said.

[Let's wait for more data in the next few days or few weeks so we can see if it is another variant tagged as variant of interest and hopefully not a variant of concern.]

According to the World Health Organization, variant of concern means the coronavirus variant could have an increase in transmissibility or increase in virulence or decrease in effectiveness of public health.

To date, the Department of Health has not reported any cases of C.1.2 variant in the Philippines. --NB, GMA News