Philippines has not yet detected ‘Stealth Omicron’ –DOH

By JOAHNA LEI CASILAO, GMA News

Published January 24, 2022 12:43pm

The Philippines has not yet detected a sub-lineage of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the BA.2 or the Stealth Omicron was discovered a week after the detection of Omicron.

“Hanggang sa ngayon naman po wala po tayong nade-detect na ganitong BA.2 sa ating bansa (as of now, we still have not detected the BA.2 in our country),” Vergeire said in an interview on CNN.

Vergeire also assured that the country has the capacity to detect the sub-lineage.

“In our Philippine Genome Center, when we do our whole-genome sequencing, all the possible lineages that are present in every sample that we get can be detected,” she said.

According to Vergeire, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other experts are still studying the BA.2.

“Based on their initial findings and based on observing patients… wala naman masyadong difference with the Omicron as to the severity of illness,” she said.

(Based on their initial findings and based on observing patients… there is not much difference with Omicron as to the severity of illness.)

“So it is WHO that we will wait for if they classify it as a variant of interest or concern,” she added.

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has designated the BA.2 as a variant under investigation.

The UKHSA said that while there was uncertainty around the significance of the changes to the viral genome, the early analysis suggested an increased growth rate compared to the original Omicron lineage. –KG, GMA News

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