Department of Health – Technical Advisory Group member Dr. Edsel Salvaña (PPD photo)

MANILA – The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) has the capability to detect recombinant variant Omicron XE in case it enters the country, an infectious disease expert said Wednesday.

Omicron XE is a combination of two Omicron sub-variants – BA.1 and BA.2.

In a televised public briefing, Department of Health – Technical Advisory Group member Dr. Edsel Salvaña said the PGC continues the surveillance of samples from sentinel sites and incoming travellers who test positive for Covid-19.

“Sa ngayon, mino-monitor ito ng WHO [World Health Organization] mukhang may survival advantage, 10 percent increased transmissibility but there’s no evidence it is deadlier or can cause more severe disease,” Salvaña said.

Current data show that Omicron XE does not have increased breakthrough infections and its response to vaccines remains the same as that of BA.1 and BA.2.

Omicron XE cases are still few, and its symptoms are not different from the symptoms of the other sub-lineages of Omicron.

“’Yung na-describe sa (The one described in) Thailand, my understanding is mild lang ang case na ‘yon. We’re monitoring, in fact, XE is not yet called variant under monitoring or variant of concern,” Salvaña said.

The best protection against Omicron XE and for any other variant of the coronavirus would be vaccination paired with booster shots and wearing of face masks, he added.

As of April 4, a total of 66,230,305 Filipinos are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Some 12,208,931 fully vaccinated individuals have received their booster shots. (PNA)