No need to panic over ‘Centaurus’ subvariant —expert
UPDATED MANILA, Philippines — Fears about the supposed “Centaurus” subvariant of the COVID-19 Omicron strain were just sensationalized by the media, according to infectious diseases expert Dr. Edsel Salvana, who claims that there is no need to panic about it.
Salvana, during an interview with PTV’s Laging Handa on Monday, said that scientific and sensationalized news about Centaurus — or the BA.2.75 variant — has been muddled up and is causing concern among people.
He said that virus mutations are normal, while monitoring closely of these is crucial.
“Itong Centaurus, gawa-gawa lang ‘yan ng media so walang kinalaman ‘yan. So it really shows na meron talagang mix ng sensationalism at scientific naman ‘yong iba, sa mga nakikita natin ‘pag sinasabi nila ‘yong 2.75 or Centaurus. We have to be very careful,” Salvana explained.
(Giving the name Centaurus was only done by the media, so it has no relation with the proper nomenclature. So it really shows that there is really a mix of sensationalism and scientific information when they talk about this variant, the 2.75 or the Centaurus. We have to be very careful.)
“Of course ‘yong knowledge na patuloy ang pag-mutate ng COVID, but at the same time, hindi po talaga tayo dapat magpanic sa bawat bagong iteration nitong Omicron, important (is) to continue monitor closely, but don’t panic (kasi) sa ngayon wala namang ebidensya na it’s taking over,” he added.
(Of course, we have the knowledge that COVID-19 continues to mutate, but at the same time, we should not panic about the new iteration of Omicron, what is important is to continue monitoring closely, but don’t panic because there is still no evidence that it’s taking over.)
The infectious diseases expert also noted Centaurus’ media name differs from WHO (World Health Organization) designation of variants of concern. Centaurus, Salvana said, is a name of a galaxy, while variants were named after letters of the Greek alphabet.
He clarified that BA.2.75 is not a variant of concern and has not deviated from the Omicron lineage, even though variants are likely to enter the country.
“Itong variants papasok at papasok talaga ‘yan because it’s really the nature of the virus, na it spreads, it mutates. Itong 2.75 mukhang merong increased transmission although the studies are ongoing […] hindi pa siya considered na panibagong variant of concern,” Salvana said.
(These variants will eventually be present here because it’s really the nature of the virus, that it spreads, it mutates. This BA.2.75 seems to have increased transmission although the studies are ongoing, it is not yet considered as a new variant of concern.)
“In fact ‘yong pangalan nga medyo weird eh, ‘yong tinatawag na ‘Centaurus’, it’s named after a galaxy na sinasabi lang sa isang (forum). No scientific anything behind Centaurus hindi katulad no’ng sa Omicron, sa Delta, these are based on the Greek alphabet,” he added.
(In fact, the way it was named is weird; it was called ‘Centaurus’, it’s named after a galaxy which they said in a forum. No scientific anything behind Centaurus, unlike Omicron, the Delta variant, these are based on the Greek alphabet.)
Salvana also said that the best way to address the variant is to continue wearing face masks and getting extensive vaccine coverage, as the risk of severe COVID-19 significantly drops with these two health measures.
“Nandyan ‘yan at we will monitor, but as far as the we’re concerned, ‘yong ginagamit nating mga bakuna ay mabisa naman sa pag-prevent ng severe COVID, at kailangan pa rin natin mag-mask para mas mababa ‘yong risk na ma-transmit natin sa isa’t isa,” he noted.
(It’s there [the Centaurus] and we will monitor it, but as far as we’re concerned, the vaccines we use have been effective in preventing severe COVID, and we still need to wear masks to continue lowering the risk of transmitting COVID-19.)
“Wala namang ebidensyang it’s different from other Omicron variants at this time. Pero alam ko rin ‘yong mga bakuna, people who were vaccinated and boosted, mas mababa talaga ‘yong risk ng severe disease — just like all the other Omicron subvariants,” he added.
(There is no evidence that it’s different from other Omicron variants at this time. But we also know those people who were vaccinated and boosted have a lower risk of severe disease — just like all the other Omicron subvariants.
There have been fears of another COVID-19 wave after the so-called Centaurus, believed to be more infectious, made its way into the country. Last August 2, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that two COVID-19 patients in the country carry the BA.2.75 variant.
However, DOH and other experts like Salvana have expressed confidence that the worst is already over for the country, and there may be no need to impose new lockdowns.
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