Indian variant of COVID-19 not yet detected in Philippines — DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2021 01:17 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2021 02:25 PM

Video courtesy of Department of Health

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it has not yet detected the presence of a so-called Indian coronavirus variant in the Philippines.

“Dito po as atin sa Pilipinas, we reviewed all of our records. Pinaaral din natin sa Philippine Genome Center. We have not detected yet this kind of variant across the 5,000 na na-sequence na po natin na mga specimen dito sa bansa,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(Here in the Philippines, we reviewed all of our records. We had the Philippine Genome Center study it. We have not detected yet this kind of variant across the 5,000 specimens sequenced here in the country.)

The variant first detected in India has been making headlines recently as cases surged in the said country. The variant has also been detected in other countries such as the United States, Australia, Israel, Switzerland and Singapore. 

It has been tagged a “double mutant” because of the presence of two notable mutations in the spike protein of the virus, which are said to allow the virus to easily gain entry into the human body and multiply faster.

Vergeire pointed out that the variant was already identified in October 2020 and has been found in at least 6 countries.

“Pinag-aaralan ngayon ng Interagency Task Force on COVID variants itong sinasabing Indian variant (The IATF on COVID variants is already studying the so-called Indian variant),” she said. 

“Nagkaroon na rin tayo ng (We also had an) initial discussion with the Department of Foreign Affairs. They are just waiting for the recommendation of DOH together with our experts.”

Vergeire said the DOH will release its recommendations to the IATF as soon as they receive word from experts.

The Philippines has also been dealing with its own variants of concern, with hundreds of UK variant and South African variant cases detected in the National Capital Region and other areas.

The variants are partly blamed for the recent spike in new COVID-19 cases in the country.