New COVID-19 strain not likely to affect vaccine development, experts say

By: Daphne Galvez - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ - | December 27,2020 - 03:45 PM

The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

MANILA, Philippines — The new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) strain found in the United Kingdom will is not likely to affect the development of vaccines against the disease, experts said Sunday.

Dr. Edcel Salvana, a member of the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group, said that the impact of the new strain on the efficacy of vaccines being developed is still being studied.

“Wala pa tayong alam sa ngayon if this [new strain] affects it [vaccines] but pinag-aaralan naman. Based on the number of mutations, most likely hindi naman,” he said in an online media forum.

(We don’t know yet if this new variant will affect the vaccines but this is being studied. Based on the number of mutations, most likely it will not affect it.)

He, however, pointed out that the key thing at the moment is to “keep the number of infections low” so that there would be a low opportunity for the virus to mutate.

He also said it is likewise important to put in place surveillance systems to detect mutations of the virus.

“Dapat nakabantay talaga tayo, kasi oras na ma-detect natin na mukhang hindi na ganun kaganda ‘yung vaccine, at least maaayos natin ‘yung vaccine formulation para we can retain the same kind of immunity,” Salvana said.

(We should be vigilant because once we detect that the vaccine is not that effective anymore, we can adjust the vaccine formulation so that we can retain the same kind of immunity.)

Small bottles labelled with “Vaccine” stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed “Coronavirus COVID-19” words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

“Hindi pa natin masasabi right then and there na hindi na epektibo yung vaccine. Hindi ganun ang pag-interpret. Kailangan ng pag-aaral,” she added.

Dr. Issa Alejandria of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases said health experts will have to monitor actively whether or not vaccines being developed will remain effective against the new COVID-19 strain.

“Ongoing ‘yung studies and we do not think that hindi magiging effective sa ngayon ‘yung ginagamit na vaccine but we will have to monitor actively,” she said in the same forum.

Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, also a member of the DOH’s Technical Advisory Group, emphasized that minimum public health standards should be strictly implemented to prevent the coronavirus from spreading and mutating.

World Health Organization representative Socorro Escalante likewise stressed the need to control and suppress the transmission of the coronavirus to prevent mutations



For his part, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured that the country is not helpless and defenseless against the new strain, especially if the nation will strictly observe and implement minimum public health standards.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (Screengrab from Kapihan sa Manila Bay video interview.)

“We’re trying to do everything to control,if at all possible, to avoid the entry of this new variant but at the end of the day it’s still back to basic, which is the minimum public health standards,” Duque added.


For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Alejandria, Department of Health's Technical Advisory Group, new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) strain, Salvana, vaccine, World Health Organization

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