Vaccine Expert Panel head Dr. Nina Gloriani on Friday said bivalent COVID-19 vaccines would still be effective against the new Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16 or Arcturus.
At a televised public briefing, Gloriani noted that available data only showed that bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are effective protection from other Omicron subvariants but Arcturus is not yet included.
“Hindi pa itong Arcturus, relatively new po ito. Pero nakikita nila na epektibo pa rin gaya doon sa subvariant na nakita na natin na magiging epektibo pa rin dito sa Arcturus subvariant na ito,” she said.
(Arcturus is not yet included because it is relatively new. But they are seeing that bivalent vaccines would still be effective against Arcturus subvariant just like with other subvariants.)
Nearly 400,000 doses of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive next week, according to the DOH. Bivalent vaccines are second-generation jabs that target the Omicron variant.
Arcturus is a variant under monitoring by the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
On April 26, the Department of Health reported the first Arcturus case in Iloilo province. The DOH on May 12 reported three more Arcturus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to four.
Citing the WHO’s risk assessment on April 17, the DOH said that no changes in severity have been reported in countries where the sublineage is said to be circulating.
As to Arcturus’ symptoms, the DOH said that the WHO has yet to confirm if it involves “sticky eyes” or conjunctivitis.
COVID-19 generally exhibits flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, headache, body pain, and diarrhea, among others. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News