No proof yet new coronavirus strain causes more severe symptoms: PH Genome Center official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 04:14 AM

MANILA - An expert said Monday there's no evidence yet that a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, leads to more severe symptoms than the original genotype.

This, after the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said that aside from the original D614 genotype, they detected the new G614 strain from samples of positive COVID-19 patients in Quezon City.

"There have been reports that this is much more infectious. Those reports were done in vitro experiments but if you look at the distribution of this virus worldwide, it seems to dominate the entire world," PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma told ANC.

Saloma said that the G614 strain started to spread around March.

"In the beginning it was the D614 genotype, meaning, the original variant. Then all of a sudden, by March, April, May, essentially more than 60 to 70 percent or probably higher of the viruses around the world are in the G genotype," she said.

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Saloma emphasized that the circulating viruses have other mutations besides G614. She also said there is yet no evidence that shows G614 makes symptoms more severe.

"There's no evidence that the G614 variant is causing any more severe symptoms than the original D614, and also no evidence that the hospital stay of the patient [with G614] is much much longer," Saloma said.

She however said said it's "highly infectious" and called on the public to observe strict health protocols, such as wearing of face masks and physical distancing.

"The protocols remain the same. It's just that we have to be more careful in terms of physical distancing and not keep our guard down, Saloma said.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvaña earlier warned that the G614 strain can infect more people.

"Kailangan pa nating mas lalong paigtingin ang ating mga preventive measures kasi kung dati isa o dalawa ang nahahawa ng isang taong may COVID, ngayon mga 3 to 10 times na 'yung puwede niyang hawahan na ibang tao," he said.