According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, DOH authorized the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) to continues its research to gather more data on the virus mutation.
“Wala pa rin tayong gano’ng solid evidence to say na ‘yan talaga ay mangyayari [we don’t have a solid evidence yet],” Vergeire said.
She added the COVID-19 cases studied by the PGC might not be a representative sample for the rest of the Philippines because they were focused in Quezon City.
PCG confirmed in its first SARS-CoV-2 bulletin published last week the presence of D614G or the “G” variant in a small sample of COVID-19 cases in Quezon City.
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New coronavirus strain
According to several international studies, the G variant has become the “globally dominant form of SARS-CoV-2.”
“Together with the observation that G614 is now the dominant viral state, the authors claim that the said mutation can increase the viral rate of transmission,” the PGC said.
Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) technical advisory group, earlier said the surge of transmissions in July could have been partly due to the G variant. However, the PCG had not detected it in the Philippines at the time.
“The D614G mutation makes the virus more infectious (mas nakakahawa)… It can spread faster and overwhelm our healthcare system if we don’t double our control efforts, and so it can lead to a higher number of overall deaths,” he had said.
In the United States, Scientists at Scripps Research also noted the G variant increased the number of infections that characterize SARS-CoV-2.
“However, there is still no definitive evidence showing that carriers of the G614 variant are actually more transmissible… and the mutation does not appear to substantially affect clinical outcomes as well,” the PGC said.