The Department of Health (DOH) recently discovered a Philippine variant of COVID-19.

The Health department confirmed on March 13, that a local variant of the coronavirus pandemic had been found in the Philippines but asked local media not to refer to the mutation as a Philippine variant following World Health Organization (WHO) protocols.

Since the start of 2021, variants or mutations of COVID-19 had appeared in various parts of the world and were named after the countries where they first appeared.

The first variant appeared in the UK and was universally referred to as the COVID-19 UK variant. This was followed by new strains of the coronavirus appearing in South Africa, then Brazil.

While spreading faster than the original COVID-19, the new variants have not been deemed as being deadlier. Also, most of the new vaccines are said to be able to provide the same protection against infection.

In rejecting the tag of Philippine variant, the DOH said it is “more accurately described as a variant first reported in the Philippines.”

The Health department further said that the WHO “discourages use of places to identify variants” as what happened in the UK and South Africa.

The DOH added that the new variant known as P3 is “not identified as a variant of concern as current available data are insufficient to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications.”

Before the Health department’s confirmation of the existence of the P3 variant, Japanese health officials reported on March 12, that they had found the new virus from a passenger from the Philippines who had arrived in Japan on February 25.

Japanese authorities suggested enhanced vigilance and border health measures be implemented for the variant first detected in the Philippines.