MANILA, Philippines — Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic requires knowing the enemy, so the government will spend P362 million for genomic biosurveillance to better know the coronavirus that causes the severe respiratory disease, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
The new spending will also help the country’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, Nograles said on Thursday.
“As Sun Tzu says in the Art of War, we must know our enemy,” he said.
Citing the Department of Health, Nograles said genomic biosurveillance would allow the government to better understand the virus and its mutations.
This, in turn, would help the government implement a more responsive vaccination program, execute other health interventions, and prepare for future pandemics, he said.
The government is expected to launch its vaccination drive this month. Health-care workers will be vaccinated first.
Nograles said genomic biosurveillance was especially crucial now that different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, are emerging.
It would improve the country’s COVID-19 response “as the conduct of whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of the virus will enable us to understand the evolution of the virus across geographical and time scales as well as the impact of the specific mutations on viral properties, including infectiousness and virulence,” Nograles said.
The Philippines has reported cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus, which experts have found to be 70 percent more transmissible than the original COVID-19 agent.
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