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.
Through the biosurveillance efforts of the UP – Philippine Genome Center (PGC), in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) – Epidemiology Bureau and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Task Force on COVID-19 Variants, we report the first confirmed case of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 lineage, more commonly known as the UK variant, in the Philippines. An announcement of this finding can be found in an official DOH press release dated January 13, 2021.
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 (PGC) thru its Core Facility for Bioinformatics (CFB) releases today to the global community through the GISAID database six (6) genomes of the SARS-CoV-2 sequences from Philippine samples taken in Metro Manila between 26 to 28 March 2020.
Salin sa Filipinong mga terminolohiya kaugnay ng COVID-19. Halaw sa salin ni Prof. Eag Narvaez, UPD-FPP.
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 Philippine Genome Center is facilitating a Bioinformatics Internship Program for incoming and current Grade 11 students of the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) slated on June 8-19, 2020.
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 Philippine Genome Center is a multidisciplinary research and service unit of the University of the Philippines for health, agriculture, biodiversity, and the environment.