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FE.1 variant may cause severe COVID infections

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante yesterday warned that newly detected FE.1 Omicron subvariant may cause severe infection in the vulnerable population.

Because of this, he cautioned individuals with comorbidities and the elderly to always wear face masks.

He noted that they should always keep their vaccination status up to date as their immunity weakens four to six months after receiving the jab.

He also said this new subvariant only causes mild symptoms, particularly in the younger population, since it targets the upper respiratory tract, unlike the Delta variant.

“We should not panic because for almost two years now the health care utilization rate has been good,” he said.

FE.1, a sublineage of the Omicron XBB subvariant, was added to the list of variants under monitoring by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control on June 1, 2023.

The Department of Health (DOH) said it was initially flagged “for its increasing global prevalence” and has been detected in 35 countries so far.

The agency, however, stressed that currently available evidence for the subvariant does not suggest any differences in disease severity or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant.

“Limited information is available for the variant and researchers are currently characterizing FE.1 in terms of transmissability, immune evasion, and ability to cause more severe disease,” the DOH said.

Solante said bivalent COVID-19 vaccines could provide substantial protection against the FE.1 Omicron subvariant.

On Monday, the country detected its first case of FE.1 subvariant as shown in the DOH biosurveillance report reflecting the genome sequencing results from May 29 to June 12. — Macon Ramos-Araneta

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