The reported hybrid of the highly transmissible variants first found in India and the United Kingdom detected in Vietnam needs more evidence to say whether it is more transmissible or decreases the effectiveness of vaccines, said the Philippine Department of Health.
Despite Vietnam Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long’s recent warning of the danger of the new variant, Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of the Health Department’s technical advisory group, said the variant found in Vietnam cannot yet be considered one of concern.
“We need to study very well whether this really is a hybrid or if it’s really just another variant that acquired these mutations in the course of natural mutation. That does not necessarily translate to increased transmissibility or decreased susceptibility to our vaccines,” he said.
On the other hand, Rosario Vergeire, the Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson expressed a similar sentiment but did not dismiss the reports about the new variant entirely.
“Whatever the type of variant may be, we still need to practice the minimum health protocols. That is the only way for us to get protected against these variants and of course have yourself vaccinated if you are eligible already,” she said.
The DOH official also noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to receive full details on the said variant and is still waiting for the full report to provide guidance to member-countries.
In recent reports, the Vietnamese Health Minister said the laboratory cultures of the new variant revealed that the virus replicated itself very quickly, which could explain why so many COVID-19 cases appeared in different parts of Vietnam in such a short period of time.