Omicron Sub-variant Mutation ‘XE Variant’ Sweeps Across The UK - Here’s What We Know
News of the rise of yet another Omicron variant, titled ‘XE’, has emerged from the UK this week – after first having been detected there on January 19th earlier this year.
This ‘recombinant’ variant has been formed from one infected patient carrying both Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 sublineages of COVID-19 and has since spread to 637 reported and confirmed patients to date across Great Britain.
Currently, there are also known cases of the XE variant in India, brought across by a traveller coming from South Africa, so it seems as though it is only a matter of time before we hear more about this variant being detected in more countries across the world.
As with every variant, there is real cause for concern as mutations can lead to unexpected symptoms and thus complications when it comes to understanding how to best tackle the spread of the virus.
The UK Health Security Agency, UKHSCA, along with other experts in the Coronavirus field have been investigating the risk level of this recombinant mutation, with the World Health Organization announcing this week that this mutation is even more transmissible than Omicron. It appears to be 10% more contagious than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, which is currently the dominant strain across the world.
According to UKHSA, their research has so far found three recombinants this year, named XF, XE, and XD. XF and XD are merged mutations of the Coronavirus strains Delta and Omicron Ba.1, while XE has been formed through the merging of the genetic material of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 in one host carrier.
Mutations are to be expected from viruses as they continuously develop as they make their way through patients, shifting and evolving, so this is not the last time we can expect to see a COVID-19 variant making headline news. However, this does not imply that we shouldn’t be vigilant when they do appear. Seeing the sudden and unexpected impact of other COVID-19 variants sweeping across the globe, infecting thousands of people at a time, bringing lockdowns, travel restrictions and entire nations to a halt, the UKHSA and the WHO continue to monitor all recombinants closely.
Despite the fact that over 97% of the U.S. population over the age of 16, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose, with over 82% of those being fully vaccinated, on April 6th 2022, there were almost 50,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in the USA. With new variants appearing almost every week and this influx of cases seemingly on the rise again, COVID-19 is far from over.
The best method of ensuring that you are not spreading Coronavirus and allowing these mutations to form and progress further is to be tested on a regular basis, so that you can keep your loved ones and your community safe.