DBM ordered to release funds for expanded genome sequencing capacity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Department of Budget and Management to provide funds to increase the country's capacity to do genome sequencing, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said.

Dela Peña did not specify an amount, but the Philippine Genome Center earlier sought P100-million funding support - P50 million each for its satellite offices in the Visayas and Mindanao. With the budget, each facility will be able to sequence 50 samples per week for the rest of the year, PGC noted.

“It is very welcome news that the President has supported the University of the Philippines' decision to expand the capabilities of the PGC branches in Visayas and Mindanao to enable them to do the advanced sequencing protocols which are urgently needed particularly with the coming out of COVID-19 variants and for ordering the DBM to release funds for the purpose,” dela Peña said Tuesday in a statement.

Currently, only the PGC main office in Quezon City is conducting genome sequencing, which identifies the type of variant a coronavirus-positive person has.

The PGC and UP National Institutes of Health have detected cases of all four variants of concern in the country.

The Department of Health has declared community transmission of Delta, the most contagious among all variants of concern, in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, but it said more evidence is needed to say the situation is the same nationwide.

Community transmission means the source of infection can no longer be traced.