Genome Center to process 750 COVID-19 samples per week
The building of the Philippine Genome Center at the University of the Philippines-Diliman via Facebook

Genome Center to process 750 COVID-19 samples per week

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — By next week, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) would resume its work on genome sequencing of 750 positive COVID-19 samples per week with the expected arrival of the testing kits it had ordered.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News/TV5 Friday night, PGC executive director Cynthia Saloma said: “I am happy to announce that starting next week, we will be doing 750 every week because the kits that we ordered are arriving and they are good for one year. Finally!”

This developed as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Delta variant first detected in India is becoming globally dominant.

First detected last October, the variant has already spread through 80 countries.

As the PGC monitors its presence in the country, Saloma said that in the past weeks, detecting the variant had slowed down due to the shortage in testing kits for genome sequencing.

Despite the limitation in sequencing kits, Saloma said the Philippines has the “highest number of shared sequences” in the global initiative on sharing all influenza data (GISAID) among Asian nations.

The country deposited 4,305 sequences, followed by Singapore with 3,080, Indonesia with 1,978 and Malaysia with 1,184.

“So the genome sequencing that we are doing is not trivial,” stressed Saloma.

She noted that the PGC wants to sequence as many samples as possible, but considering “value for money, 750 samples is already reasonable.”

“Our machine is one of the most powerful. It can sequence 2,000 but to process 2,000 will take more days so we chose 750 samples,” she said.

According to Saloma, the Philippines is actually not far behind other countries as she cited that England is sequencing nine percent of its entire COVID-19 cases while the United States tests less than one percent of its cases.

On the other hand, Singapore is sequencing three percent of its cases while Japan is doing around four to five percent of its cases.

Saloma maintained that the country is doing sequencing of some 0.8 percent of cases.

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