DOH Not Expecting New Omicron XE To Dodge Vaccine Efficacy

    DOH Not Expecting New Omicron XE To Dodge Vaccine Efficacy

    The Department of Health (DOH) does not anticipate the Omicron XE to outperform COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of DOH’s Technical Advisory Group on Tuesday.

    What We Know So Far About Omicron XE

    According to Dr. Edsel Salvana, Omicron XE is a recombinant falling under the common Omicron sublineages BA.1 and BA.2. He explained in an online briefing that these recombinants develop when two lineages simultaneously spread within a community and infect individuals.

    A similar case occurred when other emerging recombinants XD and XF first emerged in the United Kingdom in January. However, XD and XF occurred as a combination of Delta and Omicron subvariants.

    As of March 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 637 infected individuals due to this variant.

    Additionally, the WHO identified that Omicron XE is ten times more transmissible than the previous “stealth” subvariant, BA.2. This subvariant is the dominant virus subvariant that is causing outbreaks in several countries.

    Meanwhile, Thailand, a neighboring country of the Philippines, recently reported its first case of Omicron XE. But the DOH guaranteed the public that it is closely monitoring and coordinating with the WHO.

    “Hopefully, [the XE variant] won’t be epidemiologically and clinically more brutal or more dangerous [than previous variants]. We hope that will not happen, but we are ready,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told the reporters.

    More on Vaccine Efficacy

    According to Dr. Salvana, Omicron XE could enter the country at any time. He assured the people that should the new variant arise, vaccines will be effective against it.

    “But we don’t expect it to be more severe, and we don’t expect it to dodge vaccines any worse than BA.1 or BA.2.”

    “Most of our vaccines really target BA.1 and BA.2 na medyo may breakthrough infection,” he mentioned.

    He also added, “It has 30 to 40 percent protection [against infection], but against the severe disease, it’s still pretty high around 80 percent. Kung mag-booster tayo, better than that.”

    This is why Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire urged fully vaccinated people to get booster shots. She said that it would help provide an extra layer of protection against new coronavirus variants.

    Furthermore, Sec. Duque III also shared to the Inquirer that with the 73% completion of the 90 million population targeted for vaccination, “we may actually see low severe to critical case admissions in the hospitals just as we have seen during the Omicron surge last January.”

    Currently, more than 66.2 million people have already been fully immunized against COVID-19. 71.4 million also received at least one dose of the life-saving vaccines. Meanwhile, approximately 12.2 million of the 46.8 million eligible people already received their booster shots.

    Cases and Infections Remain Low

    In the same forum, the DOH also reported that COVID-19 cases continuously follow a downward trend. Over the past week (March 29 to April 4), Vergeire cited 2,568 cases, which averages 366 per day.

    In addition to that, she also mentioned that the positivity rate fell to 1.8% during the same time period. This is in comparison to the 2.1% rating from the previous week.

    On Tuesday, data from the COVID-19 tracker revealed that Metro Manila had the highest number of new cases with 1,514, followed by Calabarzon (569), Western Visayas (394), Central Luzon (381), and Central Visayas (323).

    She stated in her presentation that countries with higher booster and vaccination ratings have seen lower incidence in recent COVID-19 outbreaks.

    Overall, the country has had 3,679,983 cases since the pandemic began in 2020.

    Learn more about Health News here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 14, 2022

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