By J. Jala | 05:18 PM February 19, 2021
Scientists in the country have discovered the presence of at least two mutations of SARS-CoV-2, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), announced on Thursday, February 18, 2021, that they recently found ‘variants of concern’ from Covid-19 patients subjected by their bio-surveillance.
DOH-7 tagged these mutations as E484K and N501Y.
The DOH Region 7 earlier said the new mutations coded could be a reason for the continued spike of Covid-19 cases in Cebu.
“The DOH and UP-PGC (the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center) however emphasize that currently available data are insufficient to conclude that the mutations found in the local samples will have significant public health implications,” the DOH Central Office said.
The agency said viruses “naturally undergo mutations” as they reproduce, both within the human body and when they are transmitted from one person to another.
“These mutations accumulate over time and may have varying effects. However, not all mutations and variants necessarily cause negative effects,” it said.
“Variants, on the other hand, pertain to a group of viruses which have the same set of mutations,” it added.
Those classified as “variants of concern” have reported clinical significance, such as the increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 or the UK (United Kingdom) variant.
It added that continued biosurveillance would enable the detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants. It would also allow the monitoring of the clinical significance of other variants and mutations detected among sequenced samples.
The DOH, nevertheless, recognized the potential public health implications of these reported mutations in samples from Region 7.
“The Center for Health Development in Central Visayas has initiated measures to contain the transmission in the region and investigation to characterize the cases and areas of concern,” it said.
More samples for sequencing would be submitted by Region 7 to provide additional information to guide their Covid-19 response.
The DOH assured that aside from Region 7, its genomic biosurveillance across the country is continuous.
“We would like to emphasize that our biosurveillance efforts extend beyond this enhanced response in Region 7 and is inclusive of all regions to give us better national and regional pictures of these mutations and variants,” it said. With reports from PNA