COVID-19 variant undetected by RT-PCR test alarming

The OCTA Research Group, a group that conducts studies on -19 data, was alarmed by the report that a COVID-19 variant was discovered in Brittany, France that was not detected by RT-PCR testing.

According to Guido David of OCTA, there may be an adjustment in protocols for those entering the Philippines.

Currently, inbound passengers are quarantined for 7 days and tested using RT-PCR on the fifth or sixth day.

If negative, they will be endorsed by the local government of their destination.

“Ayusin natin ang international natin… Dapat ‘pag may papasok na returning Filipinos o tourists dapat mandatory na ang quarantine period kasi hindi nade-detect ng PCR,” said David.

“Simula’t sapul kailangan 14 days quarantine sa lahat ng papasok sa ating bansa. Ang sa atin lang, mayroon lang shared responsibility ang national at local governments,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Malacañang is concerned about reports of the new -19 variant.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases will immediately discuss this to develop a new policy.

-19 variant undetected by RT-PCR alarming

“Iyan naman ay pag-aaralan ng mga dalubhasa at titingnan kung anong hakbang ang gagawin,” said Roque, spokesperson of IATF.

The Philippine Red Cross, which conducts one of the largest RT-PCR testing companies in the country, said it will look into how to make adjustments to testing methods.

“Inaaral namin palagi kung may deficiencies iyong testing namin. We are in touch with our suppliers, we are trying to do that,” said PRC Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon.

The Manila International Airport Authority initially refused to give a statement on the adjustment to the protocols and said the DOH should be asked about it.

Last week, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) reported that 9.9 percent of the 4,000 samples they analyzed were new COVID-19 variants.

According to Dr. Cynthia Salome, Executive Director of the PGC, the data was based on 4,751 samples that were subjected to genome sequencing by the PGC since 2021 started.

Salome emphasized that while the new COVID-19 variants are more infectious by 50%, the recent surge in infections cannot be solely blamed on the emergence of new variants.