Coronavirus variant cases in Philippines reach 1,500

MANILA. In this photo taken in March 2021, a resident holds his nose and portable radio as he tries to avoid the disinfectants used on their village as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19 in Metro Manila. (File)

MORE than 600 additional cases with Sars-CoV-2 variants have been detected in the Philippines, bringing the total to 1,503 as of Sunday, April 18, 2021.

The 642 additional variant cases made up about 85 percent (more than eight out of 10) of the 752 coronavirus-positive samples sequenced recently by the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (PGC).

These new cases consisted of 266 B.1.1.7 variant, 351 B.1.351 variant and 25 P.3 variant.

These brought the total cases per variant in the country to 658 for B.1.1.7, 695 for the B.1.351, 148 for the P.3 and 2 for P.1 variant.

The Department of Health (DOH) said 54 B.1.1.7, another 54 B.1.351 and one P.3 were still active cases as of Sunday.

Twelve patients who had these variants had died. Eight carried the B.1.1.7 while four had the B.1.351.

The rest have recovered, the PGC biosurveillance report showed.

As of Sunday, the variants were detected in around 23 percent of the 6,423 cumulative coronavirus-positive samples sequenced by the PGC. Less than one percent of the 926,052 total infections in the Philippines have been subjected to genome sequencing.

The B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom while the B.1.351 was first reported in South Africa.

The P.1, which is the dominant form in Brazil, was detected by Japan in four travelers from Brazil while the P.3 is a variant under investigation that was first found in the Philippines.

The B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants of concern have all been reported to be more transmissible and are likely to cause a severe form of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) than the original strain of Sars-CoV-2.

Studies are still ongoing on P.3 with regards to its transmissibility, pathogenicity and immunogenicity.

In a previous bulletin, the PGC said the P.3 variant carries multiple mutations in the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2, such as E484K, N501Y, and P681H.

These mutations are also associated with the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants.

“Together with a three amino acid deletion at spike positions 141 to 143, these mutations were linked to possible increased transmissibility and immune escape in some studies,” the PGC noted.

The first variant case in the country involved the B.1.1.7, which was detected in a returning Filipino from Dubai and announced by the DOH on January 13, 2021. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)


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