COVID-19 Crisis: Philippine Genome Center declares Omicron subvariant BA.5 as the most predominant sample sequenced

The Philippines continues to count thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily (4,701 on August 5, 2022) and the Department of Health (DOH) stated that the situation may get even worse by the end of this month. In relation to these matters, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) declared the Omicron BA.5 subvariant as the most predominant sample they have sequenced, according to a Manila Bulletin news report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

In the past month alone, Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been the “most predominant” sample sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), it said on Monday, Aug. 8.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, PGC Executive Director Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma stated that it was “anywhere above 85 percent” of the sequenced samples. According to Saloma, there are only a few cases of BA.2.3 which was the dominant one back in January this year.

As of August 5, DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said there were 95 new BA.5 cases detected. Of these cases, 67 were from Davao Region, 25 from Soccsksargen, and one case each from Northern Mindanao, Caraga, and the National Capital Region.

“We can probably say that this current wave is really the BA.5 wave in the country,” Saloma stated.

In line with this, she added that with the dominance of BA.5, they have recorded multiple cases of BA.5.2. She explained that in the United States and Europe what’s dominant is BA.5.1.

Currently, PGC has three facilities. The main office is in Diliman, Quezon City, another in PGC Visayas and in PGC Mindanao which all conducts whole genome sequencing.

In Diliman, Saloma said that they process 750 samples a week; 300 in Visayas, and 100 and Mindanao. PGC roughly sequences 1,100 to 1,200 cases weekly. The actual sequencing process lasts for 2 to 3 days. But according to her, from getting the samples up to releasing the results, it usually takes 5 to 6 days.

Meanwhile, she reported that there are no new cases of BA.2.75. DOH reported last Aug. 2 two cases of Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 in the country. Vergeire said that these two cases were from Western Visayas.

Months ago, the Omicron subvariant was the major problem and now its subvariants or mutated forms are impacting public health around the world. Already local government units (LGUs) have been ordered to ramp up the local vaccination and booster rollouts in connection with the new infections believed to have been caused by Omicron BA.5 subvariant.

In relation to the recent developments, I urge you readers to inform the members of your local community to get vaccinated or boosted to truly achieve improved resistance against COVID-19. Be encouraged to contact your local vaccination site or the local authorities to get yourselves immunized from COVID-19. Be aware that more previously boosted patients were declared eligible to have access to the 2nd booster shot and you might be among those who qualified. Also, do not forget to follow health protocols and prioritize your outdoor trips. Never let the anti-vaccine fanatics fool you, even if they become violent and/or more aggressive towards you with their lying, hypnotizing propaganda and fear tactics.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about the Philippine Genome Center’s findings about the Omicron subvariant BA.5? Does the said subvariant make you feel afraid to go out knowing how infectious it is? Have you received your 2nd booster shot already? Did anyone from the anti-vaccine fanatics approach you recently?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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