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More infectious, dominant novel coronavirus strain detected in Philippines

A strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), that is “globally dominant” and largely believed to be more infectious has been detected in the Philippines, according to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC).

In its first SARS-CoV-2 bulletin published last week, the PGC confirmed the presence of D614G or the “G” variant in a small sample of positive cases from Quezon City.

Several international studies have noted that 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.

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Edsel Salvana earlier said that the spike in infections in July may have been partly caused by the G variant, though it had not been detected in the country 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.

Scientists at Scripps Research in the United States also observed that the G variant increased the number of spikes that characterize SARS-CoV-2, allowing it to better bind and break into human cells as well as become more stable.

“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.

“Nevertheless, considering the presently wide geographic spread of G614, continuous monitoring of the said mutation… must be done in order to better understand the evolutionary trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 to inform containment, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies,” it concluded.

The DOH earlier advised the public to be more cautious against COVID-19 following reports of the mutation of SARS-CoV-2.

“We know that if you have that subtype, then you have that higher risk of transmission, so the more that we should strengthen our effort in contact tracing, in case finding, and following the health protocol,” infectious diseases specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante added in a “24 Oras Weekend” report on Sunday.

The Philippines has logged 161,253 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday afternoon.  — DVM, GMA News