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DOH: PGC machine contamination delays genome sequencing results

/ 02:11 PM March 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Machines being used by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) to identify if certain COVID-19 positive samples are cases of variants of concern (VOCs) have been contaminated, delaying the release of genome sequencing results.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire disclosed this Wednesday and said PGC recently wrote to the Department of Health (DOH) saying they need to conduct maintenance procedures for the machines following the contamination.

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“Nagkaroon ng contamination ‘yung kanilang mga makinang ginagamit so kailangang magkaroon ng preventive maintenance and they are trying to address the issue,” she said in an online press briefing.

(There was contamination on the machines they are using so they needed to conduct preventive maintenance and they are trying to address the issue.)

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Vergeire said PGC has already completed conducting maintenance measures following the incident, and it is now conducting another run for the genome sequencing process.

Results could be out this Friday or Saturday, she added.

The PGC can normally process over 700 samples per week.

In February, Vergeire also cited a “global shortage” in reagents needed for genome sequencing, which has affected the process of determining cases of the variants in the Philippines.

The last genome sequencing results were released on March 19. Based on that data, the country has so far recorded 223 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first reported in the United Kingdom, 152 cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa, 1 case of the P.1 variant from Brazil, and 104 cases of the P.3 variant found in the Philippines.

The first three variants were associated with increased transmissibility of the virus, with initial studies suggesting the B.1.351 variant may also have a potential impact on the efficacy of some vaccines. Meanwhile, there is still not enough evidence to conclude if the P.3 variant is also a variant of concern, according to DOH.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, genome sequencing, Health, pandemic, Philippine Genome Center, SARS-CoV-2, Virus
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