Duque: No ‘Philippine variant’ of COVID-19 yet

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The COVID-19 variant first discovered in the Philippines is not yet a “variant of concern,” maintained Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday, saying that more data is needed as regards its transmissibility and effects on current vaccines.

Duque refused to label the P.3 variant — first reported by the agency over the weekend — as the “Philippine variant” just yet.

“It’s not (a Philippine variant) – you call it a P.3,” Duque stressed. “So far, it’s not yet a variant of concern.”

“Hindi malinaw kung mas mabilis ba itong kumalat or ito ba ay mas malala ‘yung virulence, and hindi rin malinaw pa kung nakakaapekto rin ba ito sa effectiveness ng mga bakuna,” he added.

With the Philippine Genome Center detecting 85 cases “with unique set of mutations,” the DOH on Saturday confirmed that a new COVID-19 variant called P.3 has been traced to the country.

At the time, the DOH also avoided calling it “Philippine variant,” saying that the practice of using country names to refer to variants should cease because it results in discrimination.

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