Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 27) — The country’s genome sequencing capacity is getting a significant boost after the government allocated ₱295.7 million to detect coronavirus variants more effectively.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday said the funds were downloaded last week to buy necessary equipment and conduct training across the country.
With the new funds, Visayas and Mindanao will now be able to identify if a COVID-19 patient is infected with a variant, she said.
This will speed up the detection process since they no longer have to send samples to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) in Quezon City, Vergeire added.
The PGC, meanwhile, will soon be able to double the number of samples it can review.
Once the upgrade is completed within 30 to 45 days, Vergeire said Visayas and Mindanao could process 350 samples each, while the PGC in Metro Manila can double the number of samples it can review.
From processing 750 samples weekly, the country can check 2,200 samples per week.
The Philippines has detected over 6,000 cases of the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma variants of concern.
Health officials have been cautious in declaring community transmission of the Delta variant in the country due to the limited sequencing capacity.