Foul! Visayas execs slam renaming of COVID’s PH variant to ‘Central Visayas Variant’

Published April 7, 2021, 9:26 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – Local officials here cried foul over the supposed renaming of the P.3 variant of SARS-CoV-2 from “Philippine variant” to “Central Visayas Variant (CVV).”

NAMING NAMES.  A screenshot of an infographic said to be released by the Philippine Genome Center to media bears a COVID-19 variant named as Central Visayas Variant, which was previously known as Philippine Variant. The screenshot was posted by DOH 7 spokesperson Dt. Mary Jean Loreche on the Visayas media viber group.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist and spokesperson of the Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH 7), said they received reports that the “Philippine variant” was renamed to “Central Visayas variant” in publication materials from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Loreche said it was “discriminatory and disrespectful” to name the P.3 variant as “Central Visayas variant.”

“We are not separate from the Philippines. You cannot discriminately label or mislabel whatever variants of concern there is and specifically point it out to Central Visayas,” Loreche said.   

Loreche said the concerning issue is if it was the Global Surveillance Initiative for Influenza-like which renamed the variant to CVV as it will have a huge impact on the region’s economic and tourism industry.

The P.3 variant, a mutated version of the virus that causes COVID-19, was first reported in Central Visayas. The discovery of the variant was a result of DOH 7’s bio-surveillance program. 

“It was first detected in Central Visayas but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it originated here,” said Loreche. 

The renaming of the variant to CVV also did not sit well with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino.

“It is unfair and reckless. I would caution those that have taken it upon themselves to call this variant of concern as Central Visayas Variant unless they really believe Central Visayas or Cebu for that matter is another country,” said Garcia. 

Loreche, Dino and Garcia graced Wednesday’s send-off ceremony for the 50 medical workers, who were sent to the National Capital Region to help address the worsening COVID-19 situation there.

“In fact this morning, we showed that we are indeed a part of the Philippines as we send our healthcare personnel to help our brothers and sisters,” added Garcia.

Loreche and Dino said they will bring the matter to DOH and the Malacanang.

“I will write and official letter to rectify it. It’s really unfair especially now that the governor wants to open up the economy,” said Dino.