Covid may have another deadly surprise for humans just as the world thought it was over and time to move on. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), a variant of Covid mutation called Omicron XE has been found in the UK, suggesting it could be more transmissible than any other Covid strain to date.
COVID-19 cases in the UK have again risen to record levels, with 1 in 13 people believed to have been infected with the virus in the past week, official statistics show. What do we know about this new Covid variant and how contagious is it? Let’s discuss it in more detail.
What is the Omicron XE variant?
Omicron XE is a mixture of recombinants from both subvariants (BA.1 and BA.2) of Omicron. According to the WHO, the recombinant variant of Omicron is 10 percent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant. According to early estimates, the BA.2 has an advantage of 10 percent in community growth rate over the BA.2, however, further confirmation is needed.
A UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) study recently revealed that there are currently three hybrid COVID variants circulating. Delta and BA.1 come in two different combinations XD and XF. Omicron XE is the third option.
WHO’s warning on Omicron XE:-
WHO released a report on Omicron XE on April 1. “The Omicron XE recombinant was first detected in the UK on 19 January, and more than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since,” the WHO research shows. The UN health agency had issued warnings against Omicron and Delta-based recombinant viruses, saying that with both viruses circulating, this was highly expected.
BA.2 becoming prevalent:-
Omicron BA.2 is fast replacing Omicron BA.1, especially in the US and UK. These countries score the best when it comes to inoculating their populations.
As well to these two nations, China has also reported a surge in Covid cases; in March alone, the country saw 1.04 lakh cases, mostly in Shanghai and Jilin.