No Brazil variant in PH, says DOH

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    THE Department of Health yesterday said the country remains free of the Brazil “variant of concern” of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said the “Brazilian lineage” could have been misinterpreted as a Brazilian variant.

    “We would like to clarify that we have not detected the Brazilian variant of concern (P.1 lineage) in the 3,420 samples we have sequenced as of this date,” Vergeire said after Quezon City Joy Belmonte said the city recorded one “Brazilian variant.”

    Vergeire said what was detected in the country is the other Brazilian variant which is not of epidemiological significance.

    “We would like to clarify that a common variant identified among our sequenced samples was of Brazilian origin (B.1.1.28), but not a variant of concern,” she said.

    According to Dr. Cynthia Saloma, executive director of the Philippine Genome Center, the P.1 variant is a branch that came from the B.1.1.28 lineage.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the P.1 variant is seen to affect the virus’ transmissibility and antigenic profile, which may affect the ability of antibodies generated through a previous natural infection or through vaccination to recognize and neutralize the virus.

    Belmonte told a press conference the city has 18 cases of COVID-19 variants — 13 UK variant, four South Africa variant, and 1 “Brazilian variant.”

    Nationwide, there are 58 cases of the South African variant and 118 cases of the UK variant.