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Philippines detects first two cases of Omicron subvariant BA.2.75

The Philippines has detected its first two cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 dubbed as “Centaurus,” the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Tuesday.

At a press briefing, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said two individuals tested positive for BA.2.75 in Western Visayas, based on the latest genome sequencing run.

Both of them are also now tagged as recovered, according to her.

Of the two cases, one is partially vaccinated while the other one is unvaccinated.

Their exposure to the virus, travel histories, and health status are still being verified by authorities, Vergeire said.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante earlier said that BA.2.75 may be more transmissible compared to other subvariants and may have the capability to evade current COVID-19 vaccines.

This was echoed by Vergeire, but pointed out that there are no studies yet showing that the BA.2.75 may cause severe diseases.

“Apparently, based on studies and experience of other countries, this is more transmissible and this also has more immune evasion compared to the BA.5. Pero wala pa siyang ebidensya na ito ay nakaka-cause ng more severe infections [there is no evidence that this can cause severe infection],” she said.

Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) chief Dr. Nina Gloriani previously said that the current booster doses against COVID-19 are still effective against the BA.2.75.

Based on the DOH’s latest data, at least 16.2 million individuals have received their booster doses. The government is also ramping up the booster uptake in the country through the PinasLakas campaign.

BA.2.75 first emerged in India in May and has since spread to other countries like the United States, Britain, Australia, and Netherlands.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has tagged the BA.2.75 as a "variant under monitoring."

Other subvariants

Meanwhile, in the same briefing, Vergeire also said the Philippines has detected 1,015 additional cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.5 in all regions except Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao.

The number brings the total number of BA.5 cases in the country to 3,012.

Of the new cases, 883 individuals are now tagged as recovered, 84 are still undergoing isolation, and the status of the rest are still being verified.

At least 527 individuals of the fresh BA.5 cases are also fully vaccinated, 12 are partially vaccinated, 16 are unvaccinated, while the vaccination status of others are still being determined. 

The DOH also said 26 more individuals have tested positive for the BA.4 subvariant, while 18 others were detected carrying the BA.2.12.1 subvariant.

The BA.5, BA.4, and BA.2.12.1 are all Omicron subvariants under monitoring by the WHO. —KBK, GMA News