‘Nothing is true’: DOH refutes document claiming P.3 coronavirus variant is very contagious

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2021 08:30 PM

Video courtesy of the Department of Health

MANILA — There is no truth to a viral document claiming that the P.3 variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the Philippines, is very contagious, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

“Nothing is true about that document,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

The document, supposedly dated March 20, 2021 and about a Quezon City District 6 briefing on COVID-19, was already disowned by the Quezon City government.

Vergeire pointed out that even the background information in the document were false.

The document claimed that the P.3 variant was already observed in 2020. But Vergeire explained it was only detected this year. 

The P.3 variant was first detected in Central Visayas in February, and was declared a new variant this month.

Vergeire said the Philippine Genome Center, which is in charge of detecting new COVID-19 variants in the country, debunked as well the document.

“No published study has yet established the transmissibility of the P.3 variant,” the PGC said in a post.

 



Vergeire reiterated that the World Health Organization is still studying the P.3 variant, including its effects.

Unlike the B.1.1.7 or UK variant, which is already a variant of concern due to its higher transmissibility, the P.3 variant is still considered a “variant under investigation.”

The P.3 variant has the mutation that is linked to increased transmissibility, but there is no proof yet that it actually causes that effect, officials said.

It is unclear where the fake document came from.

“It’s not from CESU,” Dr. Rolly Cruz, head of the Quezon City Epidemiology & Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU), told ABS-CBN News on Tuesday.

He also said there is no evidence to support the claims in the document.

Vergeire warned against sharing information that may cause panic, and assured the public that the DOH will share additional information on the P.3 variant once they have it.

The latest variant cases data is as of March 19:

- B.1.1.7 or UK variant - 223 cases
- B.1.351 or South African variant - 152 cases
- P.1 or Brazilian variant - 1 case
- P.3 variant (which was first detected in the Philippines) - 104 cases

While the DOH has mainly attributed the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases this month to non-compliance with health protocols, it has also recognized how the more transmissible variants may have contributed to the quick spread of the virus.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country, as of Wednesday, is 747,288, including 130,245 active cases.