Recently, new SARS-CoV-2 variants were detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa with multiple spike protein mutations that may cause substantial changes in certain properties of the virus. These observations spurred biosurveillance efforts in different countries, with some countries outside of the UK and South Africa already reporting the presence of these new variants within their territories. The data presented in this report is part of our own continuing biosurveillance efforts to track the entry of these new variants in the country, as well as other viral mutations that may be of concern locally.
In a report posted at the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) website, the UK variant is said to harbor multiple spike protein mutations within a single sample, including a combination of the following: H69del, V70del(69), Y145del(143), N501Y, A570D, D614G, P681H(674), T716I, S982A, and D1118H (GISAID, 2020). While the discovery of this new UK variant appears to be concerning, the report cautions that the detailed effects of these mutations remain to be fully determined.
The Philippine Genome Center of the University of the Philippines System (UP PGC), positions itself as the catalyst for genomics research in the country that is responsive to the needs of society.
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.
A virtual conference celebrating teamwork and Bayanihan to rise above the pandemic. Streaming from the PGC Headquarters, this online gathering gives thanks and recognition to the partners and stakeholders from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who helped in the national call for increased capacity for COVID-19 testing in the country.
According to PGC Executive Director Cynthia Palmes-Saloma, the kit was made possible after genetic experts from others countries used Next Generation DNA Sequencing in trying to understand the nature of the COVID-19 virus. Among the facilities of the center is its DNA Sequencing Laboratory which was established in 2013.
The 2020 Bioinformatics Conference aims to bring together researchers, students, and professionals from the field of genomics and bioinformatics. Themed “#BioInfoPH: Overcoming Challenges, Building Opportunities”—the conference intends to surface the complexities of conducting bioinformatics and genomics research in the Philippines and therein address these challenges through the conference forum.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes whole-genome sequencing as a “laboratory procedure that determines the order of bases in the genome of an organism in one process.”
According to CDC, scientists conduct data analysis, which is the fourth step of whole-genome sequencing, to compare “bacterial sequences and identify differences.”
The Philippine Genome Center is a multidisciplinary research and service unit of the University of the Philippines for health, agriculture, biodiversity, and the environment.
This special issue’s cover is accompanied by the different species covered by the studies in this journal.