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Solante says Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 may not cause spike in COVID cases

Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante expressed belief Thursday that the recently detected Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 may not cause a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

Solante, who serves as vice president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), explained that the Filipinos’ population immunity may still be high from getting vaccinated or infected with COVID-19 in the past.

This is why the infections are not rising despite the detection of other Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BQ.1 as well, he said.

“I would not expect that this XBB.1.5 will really cause a massive increase or a significant increase in the cases. I still believe that our population level of wall of immunity ay medyo mataas-taas pa (is still quite high),” he said in a public briefing.

Solante, however, said the XBB.1.5 may become a dominant variant in the country soon and surpass the BA.5 and BA.2 because of its high transmissibility.

“If this will be the dominant variant, yes it can be, but I don’t think it will cause a spike or significant spike of increase in the cases,” he said.

Despite this, he reminded the public to remain cautious as the vulnerable population may still suffer from severe or critical infections.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday announced detection of one case of the XBB.1.5, and three cases of CH.1.1, based on the samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center from January 30 to February 3.

The DOH on Wednesday monitored an increase in COVID-19 daily tally with 208 new cases recorded. Active infections also climbed to 9,282 from 9,268.—AOL, GMA Integrated News