COVID: Philippine Variant Detected In Sarawak

KUCHING: The Philippine variant or the P.3 variant of the COVID-19 virus have been detected in Sarawak, according to Sarawak COVID-19 Advisory Group (SCOVAG).

SCOVAG in a statement today said the variant was detected by the Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in its genome sequencing analysis last week.

IHCM director Prof Dr David Perera said the P.3 variant was found in four samples received from Kuching and four samples from Samarahan.“These mutations have been associated with immune-escape from both vaccine-induced and natural infection protection, and greater transmissibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prof Perera, who is also a member of SCOVAG, said uncontrolled transmission of the COVID-19 virus will lead to the emergence of more variants that may have an important impact on the vaccine efficacy and possibly severity of the disease.

He said the continuous evolving of new COVID-19 variants strongly emphasises the need for the public to continue adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOP) and the need to achieve herd immunity through the vaccination programme.

“These efforts will help slow virus transmission and reduce the chance of future variants evolving in the community,” he said.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, IHCM has been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic in the state.

It was tasked with testing samples and genome sequencing analyses to detect changes in the virus.