Image credits: AP/Aaron Favila
The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday clarified that, to date, no Brazil variant of concern (P.1 lineage) was detected in the 3,420 samples sequenced by the Philippine University of the Philippines -Philippine Genome Center (PGC).
“We would also like to clarify that a common variant identified among our sequenced samples was of Brazil variant origin (B.1.1.28) but not a variant of concern,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
The clarification made by the DOH after the city government of Quezon City said that there are 18 cases of various Covid variants in the city that included “Brazil variant”. Of these, 13 cases are B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, four B.1.351 (South Africa) variant, and one “Brazil variant.”
In a hastily called online press briefing of the DOH on Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Cynthia Saloma, of the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center, said that currently there are only three identified variants of concern and these are the UK variant, South Africa and Brazil variant.
“P.1 Brazil variant of concern ay anak po siya ng [is the child of] B. 1.1.28, so ang [the] original name is B.18.104.22.168,” Dr. Saloma explained.
To make it easier to understand also, Dr. Saloma explained that the identified common variant which was said of Brazilian origin, reportedly in QC, is, “merong nagsasabi parang apo…anak ni B.1.1.28 ay nanganak po siya so lineage-wise ganun po nangyari [ they were saying this variant is like the grandchild…the child of B.1.1.28, so lineage-wise that’s what happened].”
The World Health Organization, according to Dr. Saloma, has flagged the UK variant, South Africa variant, and Brazil variant as “variants of concern” because they have “mutations of concern”. These three also have increased transmissibility.
University of the Philippines Manila – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) Executive Director Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco- Dela Paz allayed fears, stressing the Brazil variant is not yet here in the country.
On Wednesday, the DOH recorded 2,886 new cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 603, 308.
There were also 221 recoveries and 17 deaths.
Of the total number of cases, 7.4 percent (44,470) are active, 90.5 percent (546,293) have recovered, and 2.08 percent (12,545) have died.
Five laboratories were not able to submit their data to the Covid-19 Document Repository System on March 9, 2021.