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New Covid Variant XE Found In UK, More Transmissible Than Omicron: WHO

XE is a “recombinant” which is a mutation of BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains. Recombinant mutations emerge when a patient is infected by multiple variants of Covid.

New COVID mutant 'XE' found in UK, more transmissible than Omicron sub-variant: WHO
637 cases of the new COVID-19 variant XE have been reported yet in UK
  • XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2), was first detected in the United Kingdom: WHO
  • United Kingdom has reported 637 cases of XE variant
  • Earliest specimen date of XE has been January 19, 2022

Geneva: A new COVID mutant ‘XE’ has been found in the UK, the World Health Organisation has said in its latest report and noted that it may be more transmissible than the BA.2 sublineage of COVID-19.XE is recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 sublineages of COVID-19.

The XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2), was first detected in the United Kingdom on January 19 and >600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since, the WHO said.

Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of ~10 per cent as compared to BA.2, however this finding requires further confirmation. XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported, it added.The United Kingdom has reported 637 cases of XE and experts said it has shown a variable growth rate.According to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), its new analysis has examined three recombinants known as XF, XE, and XD.Of these, XD and XF are recombinants of Delta and Omicron BA.1, while XE is a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, it said in an update.

Also Read: Novavax’s COVID-19 Vaccine Covovax Gets Emergency Use Nod For Adolescents Aged 12-17 In India

A recombinant variant occurs when an individual becomes infected with two or more variants at the same time, resulting in a mixing of their genetic material within the patient’s body.UKHSA said this is not an unusual occurrence and several recombinant SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified over the course of the pandemic. As with any other coronavirus (COVID-19) variant, the vast majority do not confer any advantage to the virus and die out relatively quickly, it said. In the UK, 38 cases of XF have been identified, though none have been seen since mid-February. There is currently no evidence of community transmission within the UK.

Also Read: Current Covid Vaccines May Protect From Severe Disease Caused By Omicron: Study

UKHSA said XD has not been identified in the UK to date, though 49 cases have been reported to global databases, the majority of these are in France. A total 637 cases of XE – a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 – have been confirmed in the UK so far. The earliest of these has a specimen date of January 19, 2022. There is currently insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about growth advantage or other properties of this variant, it said.UKHSA said it continues to monitor all recombinants closely.

Recombinant variants are not an unusual occurrence, particularly when there are several variants in circulation, and several have been identified over the course of the pandemic to date. As with other kinds of variant, most will die off relatively quickly, Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor, UKHSA said. This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a true growth advantage. So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness, Hopkins added.

UKHSA said BA.2 is estimated to account for approximately 93.7 per cent of cases in England, with the highest prevalence in the South East (96.4 per cent) and the lowest in the East Midlands (91.1 per cent). BA.2 continues to demonstrate a substantial growth advantage. Since the middle of February, this growth rate has settled at approximately 75 per cent higher than other circulating Omicron lineages in England,” it added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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