South African Variant Detected in the Philippines

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed entry of the South African Variant of the corona virus in the country, citing six cases.

DOH reported that such cases were in the 8th batch of the 350 samples that were sent for genome sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center (PGC).

Of the six cases, two are OFWs returning home while three are residents from Pasay City. For the remaining case, location is currently being verified.

The two cases of Pasay City involve a 39-year old male and a 61-year old female presently managed by authorities while the third case was a 40-year old male who has already recovered.

As per Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, more research is needed in order to pinpoint what the implications of the South African variant are on COVID-19 vaccines.

While experts have reported that the said variant, called B1351, is more infectious and may affect a vaccine’s potency, Sinovac has not issued any study on the implication of its vaccine to other variants. However, some manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson have this data as they had done trials in areas where there was an outbreak of this variant.

The South African variant ‘s detection coincided with the kick off of the government’s vaccination drive last March 01, with the arrival of China’s donated vaccine doses.

However, it is yet to be determined if the Sinovac vaccine, which has a low efficacy rate – is strong enough to fight against the B1351 variant.