THE Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visays said Thursday, February 18, 2021, that a “variant under investigation” was discovered from the first batch of samples sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for genomic sequence bio-surveillance activities.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-Central Visayas spokesperson, in a media conference on Thursday, said with these findings, the PGC is still doing what it can to check if this is a new variant.
Loreche said the term “variant” refers to mutations in the genetic sequence of a virus or Sars-CoV-2 for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The DOH-Central Visayas earlier sent 70 samples for the first batch of bio-surveillance to the PGC. These samples were collected between January 30 and February 2, 2021.
Loreche said of the 70 samples selected, only 60 turned out to be compatible or had met the PGC criteria but only 50 passed the PGC’s final criteria for testing.
Of the 60 samples from the first batch, 44 were collected from Cebu City, three from Mandaue City, four from Lapu Lapu City, and nine from Cebu Province.
Loreche said all of these samples tested negative for the UK B.1.1.7 variant.
Loreche said 37 samples of the 50 (78 percent) indicated two “mutations of concern.” These are the mutations E484K and N501Y.
Also, 29 out of the 50 samples (58 percent) had co-occurrence of the two mutations and these are what they call a “variant under investigation” or a “variant of concern.”
“There is no name yet because they have not identified the actual, the entire sequence, that’s the problem here. So, that means this is considered a variant under investigation,” she said.
She said they also sent a second batch for the genomic sequencing. This includes a total of 91 samples: 60 samples from the community and hospitals care of the DOH CTRL, six from ROFWs (returning OFWs), one from an admitted patient, and 24 from Bohol all community samples. Results of which are still pending. (WBS)