MANILA—Health authorities are monitoring the Lambda variant first detected in Peru, the head of the Philippine vaccine expert panel said Tuesday.
It remains a "variant of interest" and has not yet been detected in the Philippines, said Dr. Nina Gloriani. The Philippines has tested 7,000 samples for the Lambda or C.37 variant, the health department earlier said.
"Hindi pa masyadong clear kung mas severe o mas nakamamatay. Kung titingnan mo ang mutation, kagaya ng Delta variant pero may naiba na isang amino acid sequence," Gloriani told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(It's not yet clear if it is a more severe or more fatal variant. If you look at the mutation, it's like the Delta variant but one amino acid sequence was different.)
The Delta variant is twice more infectious than the Alpha variant first reported in the UK, which is a COVID-19 mutation that is 60 percent more contagious than the virus' original strain.
Nineteen cases of the Delta variant, first detected in India, have been counted in the Philippines, as of Sunday.
The World Health Organization is studying the Lambda variant and if the institution sees that it is "more transmissible, is causing more severe disease or resistant or resilient to the currently available therapeutics or vaccines, then we would decide to call it a variant of concern," said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, representative of WHO to the Philippines.
"It is present in several countries—I believe in 20 to 30 countries now—but so far, it has not demonstrated characteristics that will warrant its classification as a variant of concern," he told ANC's Headstart in a separate interview.
"There is no evidence to say it is more transmissible than the Delta variant at this point of time," he said.
He explained that not all mutations necessarily mean the virus is evolving into a stronger variant and some "gradually fade out," such as the P3 variant that was initially detected in Central Visayas.
Still, Gloriani urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as it protects against severe cases of the illness.
"So far may mag pagsusuri ngayon, bumababa pag naka-2 (dose ng) vaccines. Mas mataaas ang protection against the severe form or even against hospitalization and deaths," Gloriani said.
(Based on studies, those with 2 vaccine doses have higher protection against the severe form or even against hospitalization and deaths.)
"Ang data na lumalabas mas mababa ang transmission kapag nabakunahan kesa sa unvaccinated na nagka-COVID. Ang mga namamatay halos 99 percent ay unvaccinated kaya importante ang bakuna talaga."
(Data shows that transmission is lesser from vaccinated individuals than those unvaccinated who contracted COVID. Nearly 99 percent of fatalities are unvaccinated so the jab is really important.)