A health expert said coronavirus strain in PH likely to have originated from India

Today, May 21, a health expert claimed that the strain of the SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — in the Philippines could have originated from India. In an article published on ABS-CBN News, Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) technical advisory group, said that the virus in the Philippines came from the South Asian nation.

In an interview with TeleRadyo, he explained his claims on the said health issue.

“Hindi natin alam kung Indian ‘yon or may nag-travel lang sa India. Basta alam natin ‘yong pinaka-related na virus na parang mother virus na nandito sa atin ngayon actually originated from India.

‘Expert’ analysis

He said the Philippines has sequenced 12 genomes so far from the more than 10,000 others worldwide. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, which is called RNA for viruses.

He, then, explained that the virus strain that came from India could have caused the outbreak in the Philippines that started in March.

ABS-CBN NEWS: This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round magenta objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the US. NIAID-RML

“Puwedeng may nag-travel, kahit anong nationality. Dumaan muna siya sa India, tapos nahawa siya do’n tapos na-introduce niya sa Pilipinas. Or may isang Pilipino na nasa India tapos binalik niya after siya nag-tour,” said Salvaña, also the director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health.

In fact, he also stressed that the virus’ family tree appeared in China, travelling to Australia before stopping in India.

“‘Yong sa India, nanggaling sa Australia and then ‘yong galing sa Australia galing sa China. So umikot muna siya ng mundo bago siya dumating sa atin,” Salvaña said.

Health experts have said genetic sequencing could help scientists understand the mutation of the virus strain. Moreover, it helps locate its origins and the development of vaccine.

As of this writing, the Philippines has recorded 13,221 coronavirus infections, with 842 deaths and 2,932 recoveries.

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