Population immunity preventing COVID spike in PH: expert


Posted at Feb 09 2023 09:35 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2023 09:44 AM

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The increased number of Filipinos who have taken COVID-19 vaccines is keeping coronavirus infections down despite the entry of the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, an infectious disease expert said Thursday. 

Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the government's vaccine expert panel, said COVID-19 vaccinations as well as previous exposures to the coronavirus and its subvariants led to increased population immunity. 

"Because of our good population immunity, medyo napigilan natin ang pagdami ng mga kaso," he said in a TeleRadyo interview. 

The Department of Health earlier warned the Philippines has detected its first case of the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which experts said is the most transmissible form of COVID-19.

Solante said the entry of the highly transmissible omicron subvariant means a return to practicing health protocols, while also procuring updated vaccines for the vulnerable population. 

"So far doon sa prelim data, wala tayong nakikitang signal na it can cause severe infection or severe COVID," he said.

He also noted that while these new omicron subvariants are more transmissible, countries that have XBB.1.5 have shown only slight increases in COVID infections. 

The DOH said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control classified XBB.1.5, an offshoot of the XBB subvariant, as a variant of interest due to its increasing prevalence globally and enhanced immune-evading properties. 

The variant has been detected in 59 countries across 6 continents, according to sequence submissions in GISAID.