Philippines reports 1st case of COVID-19 'variant under monitoring' B.1.1.318

By: Bonz Magsambol
October 25, 2021

The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday, October 25, the Philippines' first case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1318, which drove the surge in infections in Mauritius.

In a press briefing on Monday morning, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the case is a 34-year-old male who arrived in the country on March 5, 2021. His sample was collected on March 10. He recovered on March 21. The case had travel history in the United Arab Emirates, and his indicated address was in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

"Let me just reiterate, it’s a variant under monitoring. Lahat po pinag-aaralan sa ngayon. Wala po tayong cause to panic. Kailangan lang po maging vigilant pa rin tayo lahat and follow our minimum public health standards," Vergeire said.

(Everything is being studied now. We have no cause for panic. We all need to be vigilant and follow our minimum public health standards.)

Vergeire explained the sample, though it was taken sevens months ago, was included in the latest run of genome sequencing as part of their "retrospective" sequencing to trace what variant cases the Philippines has now.


"Gusto natin malaman na in the previous months ba ay mayroon na tayong mga ganitong variant. We do that for us to further analyze paano natin maisasama natin 'yan sa mga response na ginagawa natin ngayon," Vergeire said.

(We want to know if we have cases of the variants in the previous months. We do that for us to further analyze how we can include this in the response we are doing now.)


What we know so far about B.1.1.318

The World Health Organization said that variants that are under "variants under monitoring" are those "genetic changes that are suspected to affect virus characteristics with some indication that it may pose a future risk, but evidence of phenotypic or epidemiological impact is currently unclear, requiring enhanced monitoring and repeat assessment pending new evidence."

According to the WHO website, B.1.1.318 was classified as "variant under monitoring" on June 2, 2021.

The B.1.1.318 variant has 14 mutations, including those that are present in the highly transmissible Delta and Beta variants, such as E484K which could evade vaccine efficacy, and P681H which is responsible for increased transmissibility.

According to studies, the variant seems to be increasing in prevalence and it is now present in at least 34 countries as of June 2021.

Reuters report in March, quoting the Public Health England (PHE), said cases of the B.1.1.318 variant were first identified on February 15 and it was understood to have originated in the United Kingdom. –

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