The Department of Health (DOH) announced that it is monitoring a new variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 which has been spotted in Indonesia but has not yet been detected in the Philippines. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained during a media briefing that the DOH has already briefed the issue with the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) and the UP National Institute of Health (UP-NIH).

The new variant was reported in Indonesia, which contains the E484K mutation first found in South Africa and Brazil and is nicknamed “Eek” by scientists. According to Reuters, the name was coined due to “its apparent ability to evade natural immunity from previous Covid-19 infection and to reduce protection offered by current vaccines.”

“As far as they know, as far as their data will show, from the different genome sequencing that we have done already, wala pa tayong nakikitang ganito,” she said.

Vergeire explained that there was no recent genome sequencing done by the PGC following a contamination of its machines.

The PCG will test 1,500 samples using its two machines to produce the latest genome sequencing data.

According to Vergeire, the variants of concern are the B.1.1.7, the South Africa variant, and the P.3 variant which is still under investigation. Ronald dela Cruz