Francis A. Tablizo, Cynthia P. Saloma, Marc Jerrone R. Castro, Kenneth M. Kim, Maria Sofia L. Yangzon, Carlo M. Lapid, Benedict A. Maralit, Marc Edsel C. Ayes, Jan Michael C. Yap, Jo-Hannah S. Llames, Shiela Mae M. Araiza, Kris P. Punayan, Irish Coleen A. Asin, Candice Francheska B. Tambaoan, Asia Louisa U. Chong, Karol Sophia Agape R. Padilla, Rianna Patricia S. Cruz, El King D. Morado, Joshua Gregor A. Dizon, Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, Alethea R. de Guzman, Razel Nikka M. Hao, Arianne A. Zamora, Devon Ray Pacial, Juan Antonio R. Magalang, Marissa Alejandria, Celia Carlos, Anna Ong-Lim, Edsel Maurice Salvaña, John Q. Wong, Jaime C. Montoya, Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire

We report the sequencing and detection of 36 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) samples containing lineage-defining mutations specific to viruses belonging to the B.1.1.7 lineage in the Philippines.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that has gained pandemic status from the World Health Organization, with millions of cases and deaths recorded worldwide. This global health crisis is caused by the virus referred to as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a member of the genus Betacoronavirus (Coronaviridae), together with the causative agents of the first SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

In this study, we present the genome sequences of 36 cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines caused by viruses belonging to SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, also referred to as 20I/501Y.V1 or the variant of concern (VOC) 202012/01. This particular SARS-CoV-2 variant was initially identified in the United Kingdom and has been reported to cause a surge of COVID-19 infections in that country (1). Initial studies also suggest that the B.1.1.7 viruses appear to have a replicative advantage (2) and are more transmissible (3). The protocols used in this study were reviewed and approved by the Single Joint Research Ethics Board of the Department of Health, with approval code SJREB-2021-11, as part of a larger research program entitled “A retrospective study on the national genomic surveillance of COVID-19 transmission in the Philippines by SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis.”

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