Government allocates P362 million for COVID-19 genome sequencing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2021 12:29 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2021 01:04 PM

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President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet has allocated an additional P362 million to fund the country's genome sequencing efforts for the whole year, which would help identify new COVID-19 variants, an official said on Thursday. 

Genome sequencing will "enable us to understand the evolution of the virus across geographical and time scales, as well as the impact of specific mutations on viral properties, including infectiousness and virulence," said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. 

This information will allow the government to roll out a "more responsive" vaccination program, execute other existing health interventions, and prepare for future pandemics, he said. 

"We must know our enemy," Nograles said, quoting an ancient Chinese military treatise. 

"A total of P362 million will be allocated for this initiative," he told reporters in an online briefing.

The proposed budget will include a year's worth of supply of reagents or chemicals used in tests, testing kits and other logistical requirements, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said. 

The funds will cover genome sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center, University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health, and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

The Philippines last month detected cases of a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant first recorded in the United Kingdom.