THE Department of Health has confirmed the presence of two mutations of the coronavirus 2019 that can be traced to the Philippines, particularly the Visayas, as origin.
The DOH reported that Anna Ong-Lim, an expert-member of the DOH technical working group that handles matters about coronavirus variants, confirmed that the N501Y and E484K, the two dominant mutations that were detected in Western Visayas recently, are unique to the Philippines and have been assigned as the P.3 variant.
‘Let us not make the problem worse by attaching our country’s name to his malevolent pathogen.’
The government, which in the past is very much at home using simple designations such as the South African, Brazil, and UK variant, all of a sudden turned around and realized that attaching the name of the place where the coronavirus first made its presence felt is pure stupidity, that sometimes has political undertones.
Our leaders who are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic now affirm that the practice of naming coronavirus variants after countries where they were initially detected causes unfair stigma against certain peoples.
Ong-Lim verbalized the DOH policy thus: “We want to do away with calling this as the Philippine variant. It’s not an acceptable practice and we try to veer away from that.”
It was former President Donald Trump of the United States who exploited the discriminative effects of name-calling when he named the original coronavirus 2019 as the Wuhan virus or China virus. The effect is a rise in racial prejudice and discrimination in some parts of the US, targeting not only Chinese but all Asians.
The DOH earlier said there was one case of COVID-19 with the P.1 variant which was first detected in Brazil, in a returning overseas Filipino from Western Visayas. Also, the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant was found in 59 new COVID-19 cases while the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant was found in 32 additional cases.
The presence in the country of various strains of the coronavirus 2019 is a huge problem in itself. Let us not make the problem worse by attaching our country’s name to his malevolent pathogen.