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Philippine Genome Center needs P100M for Visayas, Mindanao ops —NIH exec

The satellite facilities of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) in Visayas and Mindanao need P50 million each to be able to conduct genome sequencing, the executive director of the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) said Tuesday.

UP-NIH chief Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz said she and PGC Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma studied how much funds the Visayas and Mindanao facilities would need in order to sequence samples to detect coronavirus variants.

“Ang calculation po namin ni Dr. Cynthia, siguro po ang kailangan namin (Based on our calculation, what we would probably need) for PGC Visayas and Mindanao is P50 million each facility,” she said in a Department of Health (DOH) forum.

Saloma said the funds would be used to purchase genome sequencing equipment and kits, adding that these would allow PGC Visayas and Mindanao to sequence 50 samples each per week.

The PGC chief said they would try to seek funding from the DOH and Department of Science and Technology but support from “anybody” would be “very welcome.”

De la Paz said the plan to enhance the capability of PGC satellite offices was part of initiatives to expand the country’s genome sequencing amid the emergence of new coronavirus variants.

The DOH earlier said the PGC could double the number of samples that it sequences to 1,500 per week once extraction machines arrive. 

Saloma previously explained that extraction machines “will really improve our sequencing capability” since the PGC’s “main problem” is automating the extraction of RNA. 

The Philippines has logged 1,773 Alpha variant cases, 2,019 Beta cases, 119 Delta cases, and two Gamma cases as of July 24. —KBK, GMA News