January 12, 2022
MANILA — While the Omicron variant appears to cause less severe illness compared to the Delta variant, it may be capable of causing long-term after-infection effects otherwise known as “long COVID,” experts warned on Tuesday.
Thus, Filipinos should not be complacent about catching the coronavirus, said Philippine Genome Center (PGC) chief Cynthia Saloma, considering it is unclear who among carriers of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 – whether they experienced mild or no symptoms – may develop long COVID.
SARS-CoV-2 is the latest strain of coronavirus that causes severe respiratory illness COVID-19. It has undergone mutations that resulted in numerous variants including Delta and Omicron – said to be the most contagious of all.
“Gusto ko lang talaga i-emphasize din na mayroon pong isang aspect that we have not put into the equation, this is the possibility of long COVID. So, very, very important that as much as possible, if we can help it na hindi tayo ma-infect,” she said.
(I want to emphasize that there is one aspect that we have not put into the equation, this is the possibility of long COVID. So, very, very important that as much as possible, if we can help it that we do not get infected.)
“Kasi hindi natin talaga maintindihan pa o malaman pa kung sino sa mga pasyenteng nag-positive, even with mild or asymptomatic kung magdi-develop ng long COVID; because that is also a possibility,” she added.
(Because we still cannot understand or determine who among the COVID-19 patients, even with mild symptoms or asymptomatic, would develop long COVID; because that is also a possibility.)
Saloma’s statement comes after microbiologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said that Omicron could become the “nature’s vaccine” to protect the public against COVID-19 – which “remains to be seen” according to the PGC chief.
For pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, it is still best to avoid contracting the coronavirus since it may lead to other complications.
“We can never predict sino sa mga tinamaan ang magkakaroon ng kumplikayson, including long COVID,” she said.
(We can never predict who will have complications, including long COVID.)