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Be ready for new Omicron subvariants – health expert

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:25 AM May 24, 2022
Tarpaulin sign reminding public to wear face masks. STORY: Be ready for new Omicron subvariants – health expert

MASK UP | A tarpaulin reminding the public to wear face masks is installed at the busy corner of Quezon Avenue and Agham Road in Quezon City. With COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila remains high, the Department of Health says people should not be complacent and continue observing minimum health and safety protocols. INQUIRER file photo / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — An infectious diseases expert on Monday said the public should prepare for, and not panic about, the entry of more transmissible COVID-19 Omicron subvariants into the country.

“[T]he presence of these lineages or subvariants is not [a cause] for us to panic. It’s for us to be ready always with our protocol[s], with our way of preventing it to be transmitted easily,” Dr. Rontgene Solante said at the Laging Handa public briefing, referring to BA.4, which originated from South Africa, and BA.2.12.1, which is becoming the dominant strain in the United States.

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“Monitoring is very important now since we now have two of these lineages that are considered to be highly transmissible and can also evade vaccine protection,” he added. BA.4 was recently detected in a Filipino who arrived from the Middle East while BA.2.12.1 was detected in Palawan province and Metro Manila.

Solante said a surge could be avoided if people just continue wearing face masks and if those who are overdue or eligible get their first or second booster doses soon.

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Case update

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reported 1,214 COVID-19 cases from May 16 to 22, or an average of 173 infections a day, which was 9.9 percent higher from the previous week.

The country’s vaccine czar, Carlito Galvez Jr., has also contracted COVID-19 and is in isolation, saying he was experiencing only mild symptoms and would continue monitoring the vaccine drive.

Meanwhile, a specialist in cardiology and internal medicine said the departments of health and of science and technology might have “fallen into the trap” of disregarding the positive studies on the antiparasitic drug ivermectin and focused on researches that showed its lack of efficacy against COVID-19.

“The issue on ivermectin is a matter of perspective. Effective drugs not used at the right dose, duration and right time or phase of the disease will not be able to show its optimal efficacy,” said Rafael Castillo, reacting to the government’s recent decision to terminate the clinical trials on ivermectin.

According to Castillo, who also writes a weekly health column for the Inquirer, there were more studies on ivermectin showing efficacy than studies that showed otherwise.

He cited the pooled analysis published by renowned experts on systematic reviews and meta-analysis of various treatments in the American Journal of Therapeutics that emphasized the drug’s overall safety and efficacy.

—WITH REPORTS FROM TINA G. SANTOS AND JANE BAUTISTA

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TAGS: COVID-19 Omicron variant, Department of Health, Rontgene Solante
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