Omicron BA.5 accounts for 85pct of sequenced samples: PH Genome Center

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2022 12:30 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2022 12:51 PM

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID
Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

MANILA - Majority or 85 percent of genome sequenced COVID-19 samples are composed of the omicron BA.5 subvariant, the Philippine Genome Center said Monday.

The country has detected 3,107 omicron BA.5 cases as of Friday, according to the Department of Health.

"In the past month alone, ang BA.5 po talaga (really) is the most predominant sample or variant that we're sequencing in the Philippines, it’s anywhere between above 85 percent ng ating (of our) sequenced samples," PGC director Cynthia Saloma said in a televised press briefing.

"You have to take note medyo meron tayong (we have some kind of) bias in sampling. Pero (but) based on sequenced samples, about 85 percent of sequenced samples are composed of BA.5."

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said it must be noted that not all COVID cases are sampled. Samples are taken from patients with the minimum amount and cycle threshold value required for sequencing, according to the health agency.

The sublineage of the predominant omicron subvariant in the country is mostly BA.5.2, versus BA.5.1 in the US and Europe, Saloma said.

"Binabatanyan if itong BA.5 magkakaroon pa ng additional mutation," she said.

(We're monitoring if the BA.5 will have additional mutations.)

Aside from BA.5, the country has also detected two BA.2.75 cases, 174 BA.2.12.1 cases, and 104 BA.4 cases, according to the DOH. 

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Video courtesy of PTV

Meantime, the "Centaurus" title of the BA.2.75 is not an official nomenclature from the World Health Organization, Saloma said. The country has yet to detect another case of the subvariant, she added.

Dr. Edsel Salvana, member of the DOH technical advisory group, said there was no clear evidence yet that the BA.2.75 would cause another surge in cases in the country.

"May preliminary study na mukhang baka merong chance na mas transmissible ito, pero di pa ito nako-confirm. 'Wag po tayo mag-panic, but we should be vigilant," he said.

(There's a preliminary study that there's a chance it's more transmissible.)

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Video courtesy of PTV