MANILA, Philippines — A mutated strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus believed to be more infectious than the original variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in the Philippines.
According to the Philippine Genome Center, the G614 strain, along with the original D614 genotype, was detected in a small sample of positive cases from Quezon City.
In the month of June, both the D614 as well as the G614 have been detected in a small sample of positive cases,” said the Philippine Genome Center, which conducted a whole-genome as well as targeted sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the Philippines as part of the validation study of the locally developed RT-PCR kit.
“Although this information confirms the presence of G614 in the Philippines, we note that all the samples tested were from Quezon City and may not represent the mutational landscape for the whole country,” it added.
This mutation changes the amino acid at position 614, from D (aspartic acid) to G (glycine) — thus the D614G mutation name. Meaning, the initial D614 is now the G614 variant.
In a July study published in the scientific journal Cell, experts found out that patients infected with the G614 variant had a higher viral load compared to those infected with D614, but it does not appear to be more deadly nor does it appear to increase the disease severity.
“However, there is still no definitive evidence showing that carriers of the G614 variant are actually more transmissible than those with D614, and the mutation does not appear to substantially affect clinical outcomes as well,” the Philippine Genome Center explained.
Nevertheless, the research facility noted that considering the spread of G614, continuous monitoring of the said mutation as well as other frequently observed mutations “must be done in order to better understand the evolutionary trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 to inform containment, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies.”
The Philippines on Sunday reported 3,420 new COVID-19 cases and a record-high single-day increase of 40,397 recoveries, pushing their respective totals to 161,253 and 112,586.
Meanwhile, 2,665 people have so far died of the respiratory disease nationwide, nearly seven months since it was first reported in the country.