Centaurus subvariant may be present in PH, say experts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2022 01:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 23 2022 02:26 PM

Residents, mostly senior citizens, at the Marikina Sports Complex wait and receive their COVID-19 booster shot in Marikina City on July 22, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Residents, mostly senior citizens, at the Marikina Sports Complex wait and receive their COVID-19 booster shot in Marikina City on July 22, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Experts believe the new BA.2.75 – or Centaurus omicron subvariant – may already be present in the country. 

This came up after projections of a possible peak of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila were pushed back and cases continue to increase. 

“Hindi naman typical pattern iyan eh. Usually, ‘pag pababa na siya, tuloy-tuloy na pababa eh. So, bakit siya tumaas ulit? May possibility na baka may ibang subvariant na umiikot," Dr. Guido David of independent research group OCTA said. 

The country tallied 3,389 new cases of COVID-19, the highest since February 12; of the fresh cases, 1,169 came from Metro Manila. 

The ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team also noted an increase in cases from Calabarzon and Central Luzon. 

“Talagang pataas pa rin po ’yung mga cases at hindi pa po natin nakikita ’yung peak," ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team head Edson Guido. 

“Nakikita natin ngayon, tumataas na rin ang mga kaso outside Metro Manila."

Meanwhile, David believes the cases may surge until August, which coincides with the start of the school year, different from the previous projection that cases may peak in July, and decrease during August. 

“Sa South Africa, more or less, mabilis lang ’yung surge. Parang one month na pataas, one month na pababa. Tapos na. Ito ’yung omicron BA.5," David said. 

“Pero parang prolonged ’yung surge nito eh. Or whatever you want to call it, wave," he added. “It did not behave according to the patterns we were expecting.” 

Dr. Rontgene Solante of the Department of Health (DOH) technical advisory group also noted the same observation. 

While authorities have not confirmed the presence of the subvariant in their latest genome sequencing report, Solante said he is not discounting the idea that Centaurus may also be present in the country. 

“Actually, nag-peak na, pababa na sana, which is characteristic of the previous increase in the cases before, ’yung mga unang variants of concern. It was unlikely na talagang tataas uli," Solante said. 

Initial evidence showed that the Centaurus subvariant is more infectious compared to other subvariants. However, the DOH said that it's too early to say if this is more dangerous, especially since hospitals haven't been fully occupied yet. 

“Sinasabi nila this would be much transmissible compared to the other subvariants of omicron. Pero ang ebidensya para makapagsabi kung ito ay mas severe and critical ang pino-produce, hindi pa kumpleto. This is being monitored by our international epidemiologists and experts," DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said. – Report from Michael Joe Delizo, ABS-CBN News