Philippines needs to beef up genome sequencing for timely COVID-19 data: lawmakers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2021 11:20 AM

Philippines needs to beef up genome sequencing for timely COVID-19 data: lawmakers 1
Medical technologists work inside the The Lord’s Grace Medical and Industrial Clinic, a molecular diagnostic laboratory in Pasay City on September 29, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - There should be more facilities capable of genome sequencing in the Philippines in order to provide timely COVID-19 data which would prompt appropriate containment measures, lawmakers said Monday. 

In the Philippines, there is only 1 facility capable of doing genome sequencing, Sen. Edgardo "Sonny" Angara told ANC. 

"We’d like to decentralize that going forward, something in the Visayas, something in Mindanao. So we don’t have to keep sending samples and by the time the data gets here it’s no longer timely data," Angara said. 

Genome sequencing enables scientists to identify COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes into variants, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said he would file a bill to expand genome sequencing in the country.

"I’d like to file a bill also, decentralizing the genome centers, since this will not be the last pandemic," he said. 

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The Department of Health earlier said it needed to expand the country's genome sequencing capacity in order to get the full picture of the spread of the more contagious Delta variant in the country.

To achieve herd immunity, the country needs to step up vaccination in the second half of the year and to improve testing and contact tracing efforts, Angara said. 

Salceda said authorities have been "aggressive" in the procurement of vaccines with Pfizer and Moderna eyed to become the most "dominant" vaccines. 

If at least 1 million will be inoculated in a day, the Philippines can achieve the target of 70 percent in about 3 months, Salceda said. 

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