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Philippines detects first COVID-19 Omicron XBF case

The Philippines has detected its first case of COVID-19 Omicron subvariant XBF—a recombinant sublineage of BA.5.2.3 and CJ.1 —based on the latest data by the Department of Health (DOH).

While XBF was linked to the rise of infections in Australia and Sweden, DOH stressed that available evidence about this subvariant “does not suggest any differences in disease severity and/or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant.”

“XBF is a recombinant sublineage of BA.5.2.3 and CJ.1 (BA.2.75.3 sublineage) that was initially flagged for its increasing prevalence and has been associated with recent case increases in Australia and Sweden,” DOH said.

“Based on wastewater analysis conducted in Australia, as of February 10, XBF accounts for approximately 55% of total cases detected in Victoria, Australia. Preliminary studies also show that many of Australia’s antiviral treatments against COVID-19 were no longer effective against multiple Omicron subvariants circulating in the country, including XBF,” it added.

DOH’s COVID-19 biosurveillance report showed that the lone XBF case in the country was detected in a genome sequence on January 28, with collection date in December 2022.

Aside from XBF, two additional cases of the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 were detected based on the genome sequence results released from February 7 to February 9.

Out of the recent 69 samples sequenced by the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), 26 were classified as XBB (including two cases classified as XBB.1.5), ten as BA.2.3.20, three as BA.5 (including one case classified as BQ.1), two as BA.2.75, one as XBC, and 20 as other Omicron sublineages.

Of the 26 XBB cases, one case was classified as a returning overseas Filipino, and the rest were local cases from Regions 2, 3, 4A, 7, 10, 11, and National Capital Region.

DOH last Tuesday announced the detection of the first case of the XBB.1.5.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently added XBF, XBB.1.5, and CH.1.1 to the list of “Omicron subvariants under monitoring.” —VAL, GMA Integrated News