MANILA—The more transmissible COVID-19 mutation Delta-plus variant has yet to be detected in the Philippines, the UP National Institutes of Health said on Saturday.
The Delta-plus variant, a new mutation of the highly transmissible Delta variant first detected in India, has yet to be classified as a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization.
Experts have feared that it could trigger new waves of COVID-19 infections around the world.
UP-NIH Director Dr. Eva Maria Dela Paz said in a public briefing that the country's border control is working.
The Philippines had earlier extended a travel ban to keep out the Delta variant first detected in India until the end of June, a ban covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
Officials, meanwhile, have confirmed at least 17 cases of the original Delta variant in Filipinos returning from India and other countries.
“Sa ngayon, ang kagandahan ay mukhang iyong atin pa pong measures ay nagiging epektibo. Tulad po ng nasabi ko for Delta variant, ang lahat po ng naitalang kaso ay from returning [or] incoming international travelers, wala pa po tayong local cases,” Dela Paz said.
(What's good is our measures seem to be effective against its entry. Like I said, cases linked to the Delta variant are from returning or incoming international travelers)
The Indian government earlier classified the Delta-plus variant as a variant of concern, as it continued to grapple with a devastating surge of virus infections.
Currently, there are 200 recorded cases of the Delta-plus variant in at least 11 countries.
Dela Paz said only WHO can say if a variant is of concern.
“So ang WHO lang po ang nakakapagsabi na ang isang variant ay variant of concern. So ang Delta variant, B.1617.2 ay variant of concern pero iyong Delta variant plus na B.1617.2.1 ay hindi pa po variant of concern,” she added.
(It is only WHO that can declare if a variant is of concern. The Delta variant is already of concern, but not the Delta-plus one yet.)
Dela Paz also assured that existing vaccines can protect against COVID-19 mutations, despite reports that some variants decreased the efficacy of the jabs.
Citing a study from England, Dela Paz said 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines would prevent a person from being symptomatic and being hospitalized from the disease.
“Kung [sila] ay . . . makakadalawang dose ay aakyat na po ang pagiging epektibo nito. Umaakyat po kapag Pfizer, 88% epektibo; kapag po AstraZeneca mga 60% ang pagiging epektibo ng bakuna,” she said.
(An England study revealed that those vaccinated with 2 doses increase their protection from the disease.)
“So ang mga tao pong may bakuna na sa COVID-19 na Delta variant po ang kanilang virus, mas maliit po ang pagkakataong maospital kumpara po doon sa mga hindi nabakunahan. So importante pa rin po ang pagpapabakuna.”
(If you get vaccinated and contract the Delta variant, your chances of being hospitalized are low. Vaccination is important.)
The Delta variant is so contagious that experts said 80 percent of the population must be inoculated to contain an outbreak.
A further complication is that the Delta seems to largely bypass immunity that might be conferred by a previous infection, an expert said. — Reports from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News, Agence France-Presse