Genome Center seeks patience as it boosts capacity vs COVID-19 variants

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2021 08:38 PM

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Video courtesy of PTV

The Philippine Genome Center on Monday asked for patience as it works to build up its capacity to detect more COVID-19 variants. 

The institution is completing plans for genome sequencing in Visayas and Mindanao, said PGC Director for the Genomics Health Program Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-De la Paz. 

"Pero siguro po kailangan lang tayong maging pasensiyoso kasi po bibili pa tayo ng mga equipment at ng mga reagents," she said in a televised public briefing. 

(But perhaps, we need to be patient because we will still but equipment and reagents.)

The PGC in the meantime trains its personnel on sequencing and analyzing coronavirus samples, while coordinating with the health department's epidemiology bureau, Cutiongco-De la Paz said. 

The Department of Health on Sunday announced experts detected the Philippines' first case of the COVID-19 Lambda variant. 

The case was local and not detected in a patient from abroad, said the DOH. 
 
The 35-year-old female patient was pregnant when she tested positive for the coronavirus in July and has since recovered, DOH Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said. 

The Lambda variant has mutations in its spike protein that may make it more contagious, and has shown characteristics that may make it more difficult for antibodies to neutralize the virus, said PGC's Cutiongco-De la Paz. 

"Subalit ito ay kailangan pa po ng patuloy na pag-aaral," she stressed. 

(But this needs further study.) 

The Philippines previously detected the Beta and Alpha variants, as well as the highly contagious Delta variant. 

Metro Manila, home to some 13 million people, is under the toughest of 4 lockdown levels, enhanced community quarantine, until Aug. 20 to curb the spread of the Delta variant.