P.3 variant first found in PH no longer a 'variant of interest' – WHO

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) — The World Health Organization has downgraded the coronavirus variant of interest first detected in the Philippines.

The global health body on Tuesday removed Theta or P.3 variant from the list of "variants of interest," reclassifying it as "alerts for further monitoring." It said reported cases of the P.3 variant have decreased.

Cases globally are relatively low, with only a total of 269 cases reported in 14 countries — mostly in Central Visayas, it added.

"Reported detections of these variants have decreased over time, suggesting a decline in their respective incidence worldwide, and diminishing public health risks relative to other VOCs (variants of concern) and VOIs (variants of interest)," the WHO said, referring to former VOIs Theta, Epsilon, and Zeta.

The Department of Health in March confirmed that a new coronavirus variant called P.3 has been traced to the country. WHO said it is potentially more transmissible and may have increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies.