PGC SARS-CoV-2 Bulletin No. 3: 23 newly reported SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences from the Philippines support PGC’s previously hypothesized viral entry routes and waves of transmission

A group of researchers from the U.S. Army Medical Directorate–Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, the University of the Philippines Manila, and the V. Luna Medical Center recently reported 23 new SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences from the Philippines, all of which were from cases of local transmission (Velasco et al., 2020). Among these samples, one was collected in early April while the rest were obtained in the months of June and July.

COVID-19 expanded screening and drive-thru swabbing at 2,280.00 Php (VAT exclusive) from October to November 2020

PGC’s Clinical Genomics Laboratory (CGL) is implementing a special rate of 2,280.00 Php (VAT exclusive) from October 14, 2020 until November 13, 2020 for all its rRT-PCR COVID-19 testing services. Similar process will apply on how to book swab appointments to prevent overcrowding and ensure that proper biosafety and security protocols are followed.

PGC’s COVID-19 lab opens Drive-thru & On-foot Swabbing Operations

In addition to its mandated COVID-19 testing (RT-PCR) for PhilHealth covered patients, the Philippine Genome Center’s Clinical Genomics Laboratory (CGL) / COVID-19 Testing Lab will open its Drive-thru & On-foot Swabbing Operations on October 12, 2020, Monday. The drive-thru and on-foot service will cater to private testing requests for elective cases. Elective swabbing applies to individuals without symptoms or those requiring testing as part of routine clearance. It will include clearance purposes such as for work, travel, and/or medical clearance (i.e. dental, surgical, etc.).

Contact Exposure Algorithm

The Philippine Genome Center’s COVID-19 Lab (Clinical Genomics Laboratory) developed a Contact Exposure Algorithm designed following the latest community guidelines of the WHO and CDC. The chart is intended to help inform the UP System Community with regard to conducting one self in the event of potential exposure. This algorithm may serve as reference for other communities, institutions, and/or offices.

PGC SARS-CoV-2 Bulletin No.2: Three Possible Routes of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Philippines

Majority of the Philippine submissions (18 of 23) were collected in the month of March, wherein except for one sample which clustered with isolates from Shanghai, China, all others were observed to group into clades linked to the outbreak in the cruise ship, M/V Diamond Princess, moored in Yokohama, Japan in early February 2020. Later that month, passengers and crew members of this cruise ship representing various nationalities including Filipinos, Indians, and Australians were repatriated to their home countries.

PGC SARS-CoV-2 Bulletin No.1: Philippine Genome Center Reports Detection of the D614G Variant of SARS-CoV-2 Virus in the Philippines

COVID-19 or the Coronavirus Disease 2019 is caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus, the genome of which is a single-stranded positive sense RNA that is about 30,000 bases long. It contains 11 genes and several regions have been known to be immunogenic, including different parts of the Spike (S) protein, the Nucleocapsid (N) protein, as well as the Membrane (M) and Envelope (E) proteins, which have therefore been targeted for vaccine development.

Artificial Intelligence-Assisted Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (ai-LAMP) for Rapid and Reliable Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Until vaccines and effective therapeutics become available, the practical way to transit safely out of the current lockdown may include the implementation of an effective testing, tracing and tracking system. However, this requires a reliable and clinically validated diagnostic platform for the sensitive and specific identification of SARS-CoV-2.