Get booster jab amid presence of BQ.1 variant: health expert

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2022 09:04 AM

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MANILA – An infectious disease expert on Monday encouraged the public to get booster doses against COVID-19 in order to fend off its more infectious subvariants. 

The Department of Health said Friday that the Philippines has detected 14 cases of omicron subvariant BQ.1, which is more contagious and better at evading immunity.

“Kasi the longer you are from getting the vaccine, mas matagal ka nang nakatanggap ng primary vaccine series mo, tapos wala kang booster dose, mas lalo kang vulnerable sa mga bagong mutations na ‘to ng COVID-19,” Dr. Rontgene Solante told TeleRadyo. 

(The longer you are from getting the vaccine, the earlier you got your primary dose, and you still don't have a booster, the more vulnerable you are to COVID-19 mutations.)

Solante noted that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is now manageable because a lot of people got vaccinated.

“Pero ganoon pa man, yung mga vulnerable population, may mga comorbidities, or yung mga nakatanggap ng primary vaccine series na hindi pa naka-booster, we encourage you to get the vaccine para at least masaya ang Christmas niyo at walang magkahawaan sa bahay niyo, at also protecting against the severe infection,” he added.

(We still have vulnerable populations, those with comorbidities, or those who got the primary vaccine but not the booster, we encourage you to get the vaccine for a happy Christmas, so there won't be virus transmission at home, and also to protect yourselves against severe infection.)

The infectious diseases expert said the public should take advantage of the two-day special vaccination drive that will take place in December. 

“The government will be having the National Vaccination Day, I think December 5-7. Pagkakataon na ‘to ‘no, na we need to encourage everyone to get the booster kung hindi pa sila nakakuha ng booster for us to prepare na pag medyo magpasko na, at least dagdag protection na hindi tayo magka-severe infection,” he added.

(The government will be having the National Vaccination Day, I think December 5-7. This is our chance, we need to encourage everyone to get the booster if they haven't gotten it for us to prepare so that when Christmad comes around, we are better protected against severe infection.)

The BQ.1, which is a sublineage of omicron BA.5, is considered a variant of interest (VOI) by the European Center for Disease Control.

A VOI is coronavirus variant with genetic changes that are predicted or known to alter virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity and immune escape.

Solante said the BQ.1 has so far been detected in 73 countries. It is driving up COVID-19 infections in the US, UK, and parts of Europe.

--TeleRadyo, 28 November 2022