DOH, PGC confirm Omicron sublineage BA.2 or “stealth Omicron” now dominant in PHL

More infectious Omicron sublineage BA.2 already detected in the 12 regions of the country, and most predominant in NCR, Calabarzon

Screenshot of Jan. 27, 2022 Laging Handa press briefing



(Eagle News) – The Department of Health confirmed that the Omicron sublineage, BA.2, also known as the “stealth Omicron” is now the dominant Covid-19 variant in the country.

“We have detected this in all the 12 regions of the country, said UP-Philippine Genome Center executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma on Thursday, January 27

“It is safe to say that this Omicron subvariant is already all over the country,” Dr. Saloma said in a Laging Handa press briefing. “Sa ating community transmission, mostly BA.2 na po, predominantly here sa National Capital Region and the Calabarzon area,” she said.

The PGC also released a more detailed report of the whole genome sequencing last January 13 that was done in cooperation with the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau and the UP National Institutes of Health.

It said that “Omicron cases were initially detected early in December 2021 and continue to sharply increase.”

the PGC report said that “almost all sequenced samples collected during the first days of January 2022” were already “classified under this variant.”

“This rapid increase in Omicron cases may be attributed to the high transmissibility and immune evasion of this variant, similar to what has been observed in other countries,” it said.

As of the Jan. 13 sequencing, 517 cases have been detected as the Omicron variant. “Of these, 182 were from international travelers while 335 were local transmissions.”

“Local cases of the Omicron variant mostly belong to Omicron sublineage BA.2 and have already been detected in 12 regions of the country, with the majority of cases detected in NCR and Calabarzon,” the PGC report said.

“Analysis of genome sequences reveal that the majority of Omicron cases in international travelers did not appear to have onward transmission of the virus. However, a number of undetected cases and quarantine breaches could have led to the entry and rapid local spread of the said variant of concern,” it said.

-BA.2 detected in a wide range of age groups, and in fully vaccinated persons-

The PGC said that :the Omicron variant was detected in a wide range of age groups similar to previous variants.”

“Omicron was also detected in fully vaccinated individuals though the disease presentation was mostly asymptomatic to mild.”

“Based on available case information, a strong correlation between the Omicron sublineage and the presentation of symptoms was also observed – with initial data suggesting symptoms to more likely be observed in BA.2 cases than in BA.1 cases. Further analysis need to be done to determine whether this observation is a consequence of sampling bias or the innate characteristic of the variant,” the PGC report explained.

Dr. Saloma said that so far, 336 Omicron cases have been determined to be that of the more infectious Omicron sublineage, BA.2, and 248 of these are coming from Metro Manila or the National Capital Region.

So malaganap na po talaga ang BA.2 sa atin,” the PGC director said referring to the “stealth Omicron” or Omicron subvariant BA.2

(Eagle News Service)