PH records first case of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16

By RICHA NORIEGA,GMA Integrated News

The Philippines recorded its first case of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, the Department of Health (DOH) reported Tuesday.

The first case of XBB.1.16 was detected in Region 6, according to the latest genome sequencing from April 12 to 17.

“As of current date, the Philippines has only detected one case of the variant among samples sequenced,” the DOH said.

The DOH said XBB.1.16 is a XBB sublineage that was recently added to the list of variants under monitoring by the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last March 22 and 23, respectively.

“The variant was initially flagged due to its increasing global prevalence and for having mutations which may lead to increase in infectivity or pathogenicity,” it added.

The Health Department, citing the sequence submissions in GISAID, said it has been detected in 33 countries or jurisdictions across six continents.

“However, currently available evidence for XBB.1.16 does not suggest any differences in disease severity and/or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant,” it said.


“Limited information is available for the variant and researchers are currently characterizing the variant in terms of transmissibility, immune evasion, and ability to cause more severe disease,” it added.

The University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) Main, Visayas, and Mindanao, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) sequenced 89 samples last April 12 to 17, the DOH said.

Out of the 89 samples sequenced, 39  were classified as XBB including 13 XBB.1.5 cases, 14 XBB.1.9.1 cases, and one XBB.1.16 case.

Meanwhile, 28 were classified as BA.2.3.20, 12 cases were BA.5 including two BQ.1 cases, three cases were XBC, and three other Omicron sublineages.

The DOH said all recently detected XBB cases were local cases from Regions 6, 12, CAR, and the National Capital Region (NCR), while BA.2.3.20 cases were from Regions 1, 3, 4A, 6, 12, Caraga, and NCR.

It added that BA.5 cases were from Regions 4A, 4B, 5, 12, Caraga, and NCR, while all XBC cases were from Region 12.—AOL, GMA Integrated News