WHO Warns of Omicron XE Variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning about a new mutant Omicron ‘XE’ variant that may be more transmissible than any Covid strain previously observed.

The new Omicron variant is a recombinant strain, a mutant hybrid of the two prior Omicron variants, BA.1 and BA.2, which became a threat when they rapidly spread around the world over the last few months.

The XE variant is 10% more contagious than the BA.2 subvariant, which according to data is the most contagious subvariant as of now, accounting for 86% of cases under the Omicron variant.

The new subvariant only accounts for a small percentage of infections, however, its extraordinarily high transmissibility suggests that it may soon become the most prominent strain.

“The XE recombinant was initially found in the United Kingdom on 19 January, and >600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since then,” according to the WHO report, adding that “Early estimates show a 10% community growth rate advantage over BA.2, although this discovery needs to be confirmed.”

The UK Health Services Agency’s briefing last week reaffirmed some of the WHO report’s statements while cautioning against leaping to conclusions.

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