In December 2020, scientists in South Africa identified the presence of a variant of concern (VOC) of the Covid-19 virus. Sequence data showed that this variant initially emerged in October 2020 in the Eastern Cape, and by January 2021 it was found in several provinces in the country.
The variant, named 501Y.V2, was soon considered to be the dominating variant, responsible for a large number of infections during the second wave in the country. But when 501Y.V2 was spread around the world, it quickly and infamously became known as "the South African variant" - an association that is unfair and damaging to SA.
EXPLAINER | Where are SA's Covid-19 vaccines coming from?