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Mutant COVID-19 Strain? Don’t Worry Just Yet, Says DOH

Health agency downplays links to rising cases among younger Filipinos.
by The reportr team
Sep 5, 2020
Photo/s: AP/Mark Schiefelbein
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Amid reports of a mutated strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus found in the Philippines, the Department of Health is downplaying the links between its appearance and the rising cases among a certain age cohort in the population.

Makikita natin talaga na ang most common affection ngayon of COVID-19 ay nasa 20 to 50 years old,” explained Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a Laging Handa press briefing on Saturday morning, 5 September. “And these are the working group. Sila po ang lumalabas ng bahay, nagtatrabaho po sila, gumagawa po sila ng mga errands. Kaya most of them, most commonly, sila ang na-i-infect.”

(“It can be seen that the ones most commonly affected by COVID-19 now are 20 to 50 years old. And these are the working group. These are the ones going out of the house, working, doing errands. That’s why most of them, most commonly, are the ones being infected.”)

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Vergeire acknowledged the appearance of the new G614 strain of the virus, but warned the public of jumping to conclusions.

“But it does not relate, wala pong link sa sinasabing new strain ng virus. Ito pong G614, ito ang napag-alaman ng atin pong insitutions like RITM na meron pong alteration po ang ating virus ngayon, pero hindi niya sinabi na mas fatal siya o di kaya mas infectious siya,” continued Vergeire.

(“But it does not relate, there is no link to what is said to be a new strain of the virus. This G614 strain was found by our institutions like the RITM to have alterations to the virus, but it is not said that it is more fatal or more infectious.”)

Vergeire continued: “Basta ang sinabi lang ng conclusion, mas mataas ang viral load ng mga taong nagkakaroon ng ganitong strain.” (“The conclusion only says that people with this strain have a higher viral load.")

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The discovery of the mutated G614 strain was announced in mid-August by the Philippine Genome Center.

Vergeire cautioned the public that more in-depth study and evidence — as well as a more nationwide study sample — was needed to assess the dangers, if any, of this new strain.

In the same press briefing, Vergeire also updated the public on the status of various COVID-19 vaccines. She said that the DOH had been in meetings with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer as well as the Russian embassy about the in-development drugs.

Yesterday, September 4, the DOH tallied a total of 3,714 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 232,072.

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