Centaurus, more contagious, immune-evasive COVID subvariant, detected in Philippines

·Contributor
·2 min read
Commuters wear face masks against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as they queue at a bus station in Mandaluyong, Philippines, July 15, 2022. The country records two cases of the highly contagious, immune-resistant Centaurus variant. (Photo: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)
Commuters wear face masks against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as they queue at a bus station in Mandaluyong, Philippines, July 15, 2022. The country records two cases of the highly contagious, immune-resistant Centaurus variant. (Photo: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

The Philippines has recorded new cases of another emerging Omicron subvariant “Centaurus” after two individuals in Central Visayas tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health announced on Tuesday (Aug. 2).

Named officially by the World Health Organization (WHO) as BA.2.75, Centaurus is said to be more contagious, and capable of being vaccine-resistant.

Maria Rosario Vergeire, the Department of Health’s (DOH) officer in charge, said that the infected individuals from the Visayas were confirmed through a genome sequencing run from July 30 to Aug. 1.

“The exposure of individuals, travel histories and health status are being verified,” Vergeire said, saying that of the two infected, one is unvaccinated, while the other one only got one dose of the COVID vaccine.

“Based on studies, this is more transmissible and more immune evasive than B.A.5. But there is no evidence saying that it can cause more severe infections,” Vergeire added.

Vergeire also revealed in the press conference that the infection rate of the Philippines had already risen to 16.7%, way higher than the WHO’s ideal threshold of 5%.

“Nationally, we are still at low-risk classification with a daily average attack rate of 2.9 cases per 100,000 population,” she said.

However, Metro Manila is at moderate risk from the virus, with a daily attack rate average of 8.16 cases per 100,000.

Vergeire said that although there has been a continuous increase in COVID infections, there are still relatively low hospital admissions, as the number of severe and critical cases is still below 1,000.

Meanwhile, Centaurus have been detected in more than a dozen countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, among many others.

The WHO and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control have already designated it a “variant under monitoring.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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