Highly contagious’ P.3 variant ‘fake news’, says UP genome center

THE University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) debunked a viral post on social media that the new P.3 coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant is “extremely contagious” and that there were confirmed cases as early as the second quarter of 2020.

Citing a “Covid-19 briefing” from the sixth district of Quezon City, the post also said that “more than 60 percent of cases of the variant came from subdivisions and condominiums”.

It also said that the variant was first clustered in informal settlements in the second and third quarters of 2020 and shifted to the middle and upper class areas in the district during the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of this year.

It said that children were extremely susceptible to the P.3 variant as compared to other variants of Covid-19, with “10 percent of total cases involving minors”.

The UP- PGC, in its own social media post, branded as “fake news” the P.3 variant claim.

“No published study has yet established the transmissibility of the P.3 variant,” the PGC said.

It added that there were no confirmed cases of the P.3 variant from the second to the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Department of Health (DoH) said that the P.3 variant has not been considered a “variant of concern” because current data is still insufficient to determine its impact on public health.

DoH Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Alethea De Guzman said that the World Health Organization (WHO) will only declare if such a variant is a “variant of concern” if it is associated with increased transmissibility, increased virulence, or change in clinical disease presentation,

As of March 19, there are 109 cases of the P.3 variant in the country, with most of them located in Central Visayas where it was first detected.