Mutation making a more infectious coronavirus? UP webinar explores the questions

| Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office


On July 2, The Washington Post published an alarming headline: “This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why.”

Scientists have found a specific change occurring in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in outbreaks in Europe and the US. The mutation is known as D614G after the switch in one of the virus’ “spike proteins”, which allows the virus to infiltrate human cells and gives the coronavirus its crown-like appearance. New research has been showing that the newer form of the virus may be even more readily transmitted than the original form.

More questions follow: Is this new strain the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2? Is the mutated version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus more infectious or more lethal? Does it make any difference to what health practitioners need to do? Will this affect the way health services are organized? And what are the implications for the development of a vaccine?

The scientists at the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) have realized that the debate on the impact of the D614G mutation must be translated to practical terms. This will be the topic of discussion during the 13th installment of the UP Webinar Series “STOP COVID DEATHS: Clinical Management Updates”, organized by the University of the Philippines in partnership with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the UP Manila NIH National Telehealth Center. 

The webinar on “Genetic Sequencing Research: Mutation of SARSCov2 (Implications for Clinical Management and Vaccine Development)” will be held on July 17, Friday, at 12:00 nn. Executive Director Cynthia P. Saloma  of the UP Philippine Genome Center, who is a professor of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at UP Diliman, will be the resource speaker. 

In 2013, the Philippine Genome Center (PGG) was established at the University of the Philippines.  The PGG was developed to promote health by understanding the genetic basis of diseases affecting Filipinos through diagnosis and early detection of genetic conditions that can be treated. In a pandemic, however, there now is a spotlight on this center as a national resource center for local scientists to use genomics tools on the COVID-19 outbreak in the country and predict patterns of spread based on genetic information.

One of the major pillars of Genomics involves the sequencing (i.e. determining the nucleotide base arrangement) of the entirety or fragments of an entity’s genetic material.Applied to the current COVID-19 outbreak, examining the sequences obtained from different cases can enable tracing of the virus’ transmission route and source of infection. Moving forward, genetic sequencing can inform public health interventions to prevent the source of the spread of COVID19.

Register now for the 13th installment of the  the UP Webinar Series “STOP COVID DEATHS: Clinical Management Updates”:

You may also watch the replay of the webinar on TVUP’s YouTube channel.