Philippines reports first cases of COVID-19 South African variant hinh anh 1Locals in Manila (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Philippines documented six cases of the South African coronavirus variant, its health ministry said on March 2, raising concern among its experts that the current vaccines might be less effective.

Among them, three were detected locally, and two were Filipinos returning from overseas. The origin of the other case was still being verified.

The Philippines started its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on March 1, an important milestone for a country among the hardest hit by the pandemic in Asia, but the discovery of another variant could complicate its recovery effort.

The country aims to vaccinate 70 million of its citizens in 2021, beginning with medical workers, the elderly and the impoverished. It has a total population of 110 million people.

Currently, the country is in talks with major manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines to buy more than 160 million doses this year./.