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COVID-19: DOH Finds Two ‘Mutations of Concern’ in Cebu

The mutations are believed to be the reason behind the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

In recent months, the world had become alarmed with the announcement of the World Health Organization that they have found several mutations of the SARS-COV2 virus— the virus responsible for COVID-19. According to them, some of these variants spread more easily than the original strain found in December of 2019.

Health experts, concerned agencies, and pharmaceutical companies are already looking into the efficacy of existing vaccines in fighting the new SARS-COV2 strains. However, the virus seems to be mutating faster than we can find a cure or prevention for all its strains. (Read: How Effective is China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine?)

Just yesterday, February 18, the Department of Health (DOH) Region 7 announced that the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) has found two “mutations of concern” in Cebu. The mutations E484K and N501Y were found in 37 out of 50 samples tested by the PGC, and 29 of the 50 had “co-occurrence of the two mutations.”

‘Mutations of Concern’

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The OCTA research team sounded the alarm over the upward trend of COVID-19 cases in Cebu province the past week which rose by about 67%. (Photo from CNN Philippines)

“These two mutations of concern are actually of global concern also,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson for the DOH Region 7. “Apparently, these are the mutations that are related to increased transmissibility.”

Dr. Loreche added that more data is needed to determine its severity, but explained that with what they’re seeing now, we all have to be more cautious. (Read: Popes Francis, Benedict XVI Receive First Dose of COVID Vaccine)

Dr. Juanito Zuasula, Jr., an epidemiologist at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, described the mutations as “homegrown.” He also suspects that these are what caused the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Whether this variation is virulent, we still need to study some more. But one thing is for sure, this could probably be one of the major reasons why there was a second spike,” he said.

Be Informed, Stay Cautious

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The Cebu City government is appealing to residents to strictly follow health protocols to curb the rising cases of coronavirus infection in the city following the Christmas and New Year holidays. (Photo from Dale Israel/Inquirer.net)

While this is alarming, DOH Region 7 Regional Director Jaime Bernadas said that most of those who were infected by the mutations have already recovered. “The most important thing… is to stop transmission of the virus because the virus after it cannot get a new host,” he said. (Read: ‘Children May Be Supercarriers of COVID-19 UK Variant’ – Experts)

Bernadas adds that people should be made aware that viruses can mutate, and can adapt to their environment. “If we continue to be complacent, if we continue to allow the virus to be transmitted from person to person, there will be great possibilities that this virus can again mutate,” he explained.

Currently, the world knows of at least five mutations of the SARS-COV2 which are now infecting many around the world.

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