International researchers have detected a mutated coronavirus strain in the Philippines. The new dominant strain of coronavirus is so far the most dominant coronavirus strain spreading worldwide.

The Philippine Genome Center reported last week that the new mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected in a small sample of positive COVID-19 cases taken from Quezon City. The mutated coronavirus strain is said to be more infectious and affects the spike protein, the structure that allows the virus to penetrate human cells.  

The first version of the virus, the D614G, was detected in the Philippines in March, two months after the Department of Health (DOH) reported the first case of COVID-19 in the country. The new mutation, called the G614, showed up in the samples collected from the most populous city in the country when Filipino genome researchers started a new set of research in June.

Compared with the G614, the new coronavirus strain is more infectious and multiplies faster in the upper respiratory tract, including the nose, sinuses, and the throat. While this means that the virus is able to pass around more easily, international researchers said most of the patients infected with the mutated coronavirus do not have severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The Philippine Genome Center also said the emergence of the new coronavirus strain in the Philippines should not be a cause for panic. “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,” said the organization in an Aug. 13 bulletin.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Genome Center, the genomics-focused multidisciplinary research unit of the University of the Philippines (UP), recently highlighted the importance of tracking the mutations of the new coronavirus in creating safe and effective containment, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies. Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said earlier that the department had given the green light to the center’s plan to expand the scope of its COVID-19 study.

The first case of COVID-19 in the Philippines was reported in January. Since then, the country has amassed a total of 161,253 cases, 112,586 recoveries, and 2,665 deaths.

COVID-19 positive Test result shows a patient is COVID-19 positive. Pixabay