The Philippines has yet to detect a case of the Lambda or C.37 variant of coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday, July 6.
“Sa ngayon, batay sa submission ng ating Philippine Genome Center, wala pa tayong natukoy o nadiskubre na C.37 variant (Based on the submission of our Philippine Genome Center so far, we have not identified or discovered any C.37 variant),” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III during the Malacanang press briefing.
Despite this, Duque said that the country must maintain strict border control to prevent the spread of this new variant, which is currently classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “variant of interest.”
“Kinakailangan bantayan natin ito dahil baka biglang maging variant of concern (We need to keep an eye on this because it may suddenly become a variant of concern),” he said.
“Ang ating pamamaraan ay ganun pa din: strict border control. Napatunayan na natin na ito ay epektibo dahil sa Delta variant, wala pang nakakalusot ni isa sa ating mga komunidad. Wala pang local case or local transmission (Our approach is still the same: strict border control. We have proven that it is effective because we have not yet detected the presence of the Delta variant in our communities. There is no local case or local transmission yet),” he said.
The WHO is still studying the characteristics of the Lamda variant, said the organization’s country representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
“We have multiple expert groups that start following that virus (variant) and studying that virus (variant), both within WHO and externally with our partners, so that we can better understand that virus (variant),” he said in an interview in ABS-CBN News Channel also on Tuesday.
“Lambda at this point in time still remains a variant of interest. That does not mean that we are not following it, we are still studying it and it doesn’t warrant a classification as a variant of concern at this point in time,” he added.
Abeyasinghe said that the Lambda variant was detected last month in Brazil.
“It is present in several countries I believe, 20 to 30 countries now, but so far, it has not demonstrated characteristics that will warrant its classification as a variant of concern,” he said.
“And if we see that the virus is more transmissible, is causing more severe disease, is resilient to the currently available therapeutics or vaccines, then we will decide to call it a variant of concern,” he added.