The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) announced on November 25 that the country’s first instances of the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BQ.1 had been identified.
The Department of Health noted that subvariant instances were discovered in the Cordillera, Ilocos, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, and Metro Manila areas. The location of one instance was uncertain.
Between October 28 and November 18, 14 instances were identified.
In-charge DOH officer During a news conference, Maria Rosario Vergeire stated that BQ.1 is transmissible and has a greater capacity to evade immunity. While subvariants are more contagious, nothing is known about BQ.1’s other properties. Vergeire noted that the cases appear to be less severe than the prior Delta variation and the original strain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants account for half of all current coronavirus illnesses in the United States.
The BA.5 subvariant is the most prevalent variant circulating in the Philippines, with 12,491 instances found between October 28 and November 18, representing 27% of all sequenced samples within that time period.
While XBB and XBC variations were found in the Philippines on October 18, only 440 and 429 cases of these subvariants were observed during the same time period, representing 0.96 and 0.93 percent of all sequenced cases, respectively.