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Brazil COVID Variant Detected in Philippines, Here's Why It Matters

The variant is pushing Brazil to the brink.
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Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Philippines on Saturday confirmed its first case of the Brazil COVID variant, known as P1, which caused a surge in infections in the South American nation, pushing its resources to the brink.

The Department of Health said the Brazil variant was confirmed in a returning overseas Filipino from the Western Visayas. It declined to give further details. The DOH also confirmed 59 new cases of the UK variant and 32 cases of the South African variant.

The confirmation came as the Philippines recorded over, 4,000 new coronavirus infections, a level not seen since September 2020. The surge forced a Metro Manila-wide curfew for two weeks starting March 15 and some cities have started locking down pockets of communities.


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Here's what you need to know about the Brazil variant and others.

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It has caused a worrying surge in Brazil

Evaristo Sa, Agence France-Presse

Brazil reported a grim milestone this week, 2,286 deaths in 24 hours, with the surge largely blamed on the P1 variant. Last Wednesday alone, there were 80,000 new infections, overwhelming its health system.

The country of 212 million people, or double the Philippine population, is home to the world's second worst COVID outbreak after the U.S. Parts of Brazil have been locked down.

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"We are deeply concerned," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing, pointing out that "not just the number of cases, but the number of deaths is also increasing".

It is believed to be more contagious


Like the UK variant, the Brazil variant appears to infect people faster than the original COVID variant, experts said.

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The P1 variant is believed to have emerged in Brazil, in or around the Amazon rainforest city of Manaus.

Vaccine makers say their jabs still work

Jerome Ascano

Biotech firms have found no evidence to prove that the virus variants would reduce the efficacy of COVID vaccines.

Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 mutate as they spread, forming variants. In the case of the new COVID variants, they are more contagious, without being deadlier.

Continue reading below ↓


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Variants in the Philippines are also emerging

The DOH said 13 new cases of the P.3 variant were confirmed, bringing the total to 98.

However, the DOH said P.3 is "NOT identified as a variant of concern" and data on hand can't tell if it will have "significant public health implications.


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