Infectious disease expert: Not clear if Omicron is more transmissible than Delta

Published November 29, 2021, 2:16 PM

by Gabriela Baron

An infectious disease expert on Monday, Nov. 29, said there is no evidence yet whether Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta.


In a virtual briefing, Dr. Edsel Salvana said experts around the world are still currently conducting studies to better understand its transmissibility.

“Hindi pa klaro kung yung Omicron is contagious. In fact may mixed data talaga kung itong pagtaas ng cases in different parts of Africa is really because of yung enhanced tracing or if tunay po talaga na ang Omicron ang nagd-drive dito (It’s not yet clear if Omicron is contagious. In fact, there’s mixed data on whether the increase in COVID-19 cases in different parts of Africa is because of their enhanced tracing or driven by Omicron),” Salvana said.

“Sa ngayon wala pong ebidensya na ito ay deadlier or causes more disease nakita nga po nila mukhang may indikasyon na baka mas mild yung disease, although nakita nila ito sa mga bata… So kailangan pa po itong pag-aralan nang mabuti para matiyak po natin kung this is just as severe as Delta or less severe at hindi rin po tayo sigurado kung mas nakakahawa po sya (So far, there’s no evidence that it’s deadlier or cause more disease. They have seen an indication that it brings milder disease, although it was seen in younger individuals… So it needs to be studies further so we can make sure if this is just as severe as Delta or less severe and we’re not yet sure if this is more contagious),” he added.

Salvana, who is also a member of the Department of Health Technical Advisory Group, noted that all COVID-19 vaccines remain effective against Omicron, however, implications of mutations need to be further studied.

He also cited the need for vigilant and protective border control; enhanced genomic surveillance; strict adherence to minimum public health standard; vaccinations; and avoiding high risk situations to address the threat of Omicron.

The health expert also urged the public to stick to verifiable information about the Omicron variant.

“Wag po tayong maniniwala sa mga fake news. You have to stick to verifiable sources of information para po gawin natin yung tama at hindi lang po tayo basta mag-panic (Let’s not believe in fake news. Stick to verifiable sources of information so that we can do the right thing and we don’t just panic).”

The Philippines on Friday started suspending flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy until Dec. 15, where the Omicron variant has been detected.

The variant, first discovered in South Africa, has since been detected in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Hong Kong.

READ MORE: Public told: Avoid crowded places amid Omicron threat