The government will strengthen the country’s capacity for “biogenomic surveillance” to diagnose viruses in the country, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this Sunday.
At a press briefing, Duque said it was a needed measure after the discovery of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the United Kingdom (UK).
Countries continue to increase the number of new COVID-19 variants that started in the UK.
Canada reported the most recent cases, with 2 new variants from couples in Ontario, with no travel history and exposure or high-risk contact.
At the same press briefing, experts explained that mutations in viruses, living organisms that change and adapt to the environment, are normal.
“Buhay po sila, so they multiply. ‘Pag nagmu-multiply po ang isang living organism, mayroon po minsang changes na nangyayari in a normal rate. So, in a normal rate, may changes, which the scientists call mutation,” said Dr. Celia Carlos, director of Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
“This mutation is generally for the good of the virus. So, the virus aims to make itself propagate to sustain its lifespan. So, pagnaka-encounter siya ng adverse environment, nagche-change po siya,” the doctor explained.
It also does not mean that the mutation is bad immediately.
Monitoring, virus testing in the Philippines to be strengthened – DOH
In the case of the UK variant, it seems to transmit faster but there is no solid basis for it to be deadly.
“‘Pag ang isang virus, very virulent, against sa kanya iyon. Kung mamamatay ang host niya, eh di mamamatay din siya. So, it will be ending its existence,” said Dr. Cynthia Saloma, executive director of Philippine Genome Center.
“In general, for the virus to stay longer, dapat mild, mild, mild lang ‘yong mutation,” aniya.
In the Philippines, a variant of COVID-19 has been previously discovered.
“Actually, hindi na nga natin kailangan pang mag-antay ng importation. Puwedeng-puwedeng dahil kumakalat ang sakit dito sa atin, mayroon din tayong sariling variant,” said Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines President Anna Ong Lim.
As of Sunday, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines has reached 469,886.
Of that number, only 22,099 are active cases or have not yet recovered from the disease.