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DOST monitoring for UK COVID variant

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Philippine Genome Center, is monitoring COVID-19 cases for the new variant of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom.

In a public briefing on Thursday, DOST Philippine Council for Health Research Development executive director Jaime Montoya said that the new variant of the virus has not been detected in the country yet.

“Sa ngayon po, tayo ay mino-monitor natin randomly ang mga viruses na nakikita natin sa Pilipinas, yung SARS-CoV 2, through the Philippine Genome Center,” Montoya said.

“Wala pa tayong reports na nandito na po ang variant na isa 'yung sinasabi nga na nasa UK, na na-identify sa southeastern part of England. Ito 'yung may mga changes din,” he added.

The new variant has been spreading not only in the UK but has also been detected in Australia and Singapore. Hong Kong may also already have the variant, the city's health officials said. South Africa, meanwhile, has also reported a new genetic mutation of the virus which may have also traveled to the UK.

The UK variant is reportedly 70% more infectious. However, Montoya said, no complications have been noted in infected people so far.

He added that the new variant also has no effect so far on the efficacy of vaccines that were developed as protection from COVID-19.

Montoya said that SARS-CoV-2 would normally mutate as it is infecting more people.

“Ang kuwestyon na lang, kung ito ay malaking pagbabago o maliit lang na pagbabago na may epekto sa kanyang behavior. Halimbawa sa sakit, kung ito ay nakamamatay o kung may kumplikasyon,” he added.

On August 13, the Philippine Genome Center reported that another variant of the virus, described as “globally dominant” and largely believed to be more infectious, was detected in the Philippinesthe D614G variant. — BM, GMA News