March 12, 2021
National Institute of Infectious Diseases, JAPAN

  • The National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan, identified a B.1.1.28 strain with E484K and N501Y mutations from a SARS-CoV-2-positive sample collected on February 25, 2020 at a point of entry to Japan from a traveler from the Philippines(virus name : hCoV-19/Japan/IC-0824/2021, GISAID Accession ID: EPI_ISL_1198832) (1). These mutations are found in known VOCs (501Y.V2, 501Y.V3).
  • This variant isolate also has the P681H mutation in the spike protein as with B.1.1.7 lineage (VOC-202012/01) which is suggested to be associated with increased transmissibility.
  • 34 draft genome sequences of B.1.1.28 lineage with E484K/N501Y mutations have been uploaded to GISAID from the Philippines (1 sequence on February 26, 33 sequences on March 3) .
  • The Department of Health, Republic of Philippines, published that they found 34 cases with E484K and N501Y mutations on March 2 (1).
  • This variant isolate does not meet the criteria of VOC as we do not know how widely this variant strain is spreading within the Philippines and whether this variant strain is associated with the recent increase in reported cases in the Philippines. However, this variant strain may be circulating in the Philippines at a certain level as the similar strain has been reported domestically and identified from travelers.
  • The potential public health impact from this variant strain shall be considered to be equivalent to those from known VOCs as this variant strain shares the same mutations of concern with VOCs.
  • Thus, NIID recommends enhanced vigilance and border health measures to be implemented for this variant.
  • Recommendations on prevention measures for individuals are avoidance of the three Cs, wearing a mask, and handwashing, as has been emphasized before.

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  1. Department of Health, Republic of the Philippines. Sustained biosurveillance efforts detect 6 B.1.351 cases, 30 B.1.1.7 cases, and 2 cases with mutations of interest. Press Release. 2 March 2021.
Copyright 1998 National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan