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4 Apr 2022

Covid-19: WHO warns of new virulent mutant 'XE' found in UK

The Index Today

World Health Organisation reported the discovery of a new Covid mutant ‘XE’ that has been found in the UK, latest report noted that it may be more transmissible than the BA.2 sublineage of Covid-19. Currently, the United Kingdom has reported 637 cases of XE and experts said it has shown a variable growth rate.

The WHO said, “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.”

COVID-19 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.

“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.
UKHSA said it continues to monitor all recombinants closely.

According to the latest news from the 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.

“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.

Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor, UKHSA said that, “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.”

“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,” she added.


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