DOH says naming COVID-19 variants after countries is discriminatory
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it is discouraging the naming of COVID-19 variants after countries where these were first detected, saying it may cause some people to be discriminated against.
“Ayaw na natin yung practice na ginagamit yung pangalan ng isang lugar to assign the name of the virus or the variant kasi nga nakaka-cause ng discrimination dun sa mga nanggagaling sa bansang ‘yun,” Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the DOH technical working group on COVID-19 variants said during the Laging Handa press briefing.
(We don’t like the practice of naming the virus or the variant after a country because it causes discrimination against people from that certain country.)
This, after the DOH confirmed the emergence of the P.3 variant that was detected in Japan from a traveler from the Philippines.
The P.3 variant belongs to the B.1.1.28 lineage, to which the P.1 variant that originated from Brazil also belongs, the DOH added.
Currently, the Philippines has 98 cases of the P.3 variant—85 of which were previously classified as “mutations of possible clinical significance,” including E484K and N501Y mutations.
“I’d like to establish na we call this as the P.3 variant. We want to do away with referring to it as the Philippine variant kasi nga hindi acceptable practice na we assign place names,” Ong-Lim said.
(I’d like to establish that we call this the P.3 variant. We want to do away with referring to it as the Philippine variant because it is not an acceptable practice that we assign names from places.)
However, Ong-Lim added that there is insufficient data so far on whether the P.3 variant is more transmissible.
Earlier, the DOH also reported the Philippines’ first case of the P.1 variant, as well as more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, and B.1.351 variant first detected in South Africa.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.