The P.3 variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first found in the Philippines, has been named “Theta” by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) announced on Tuesday, June 1.
On Monday, WHO announced that it will be using Greek alphabets to name various COVID-19 variants.
The new system applies to variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOC).
The P.3 was first detected in the Philippines on January 2021 and remains a VOI.
A VOI is defined as a variant causing transmission, multiple COVID-19 cases/clusters, or has been detected in multiple countries.
Meanwhile, a VOC is identified as a variant causing an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or decrease in the effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.
There are currently four VOCs in circulation, UK/B.1.1.7 (Alpha), South Africa/B.1.351 (Beta), Brazil/P.1 (Gamma), and India/B.1.617.2 (Delta).
The WHO’s move came nearly three weeks after India objected to the B.1.617 mutant of COVID-19 being termed as “Indian variant” in media reports.
As of May 29, the country has tallied 162 cases of the P.3 variant.