WHO: New Covid-19 variant ‘XE’ most transmissible yet, but not a cause for concern yet

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There is a new Covid-19 “concern variant” called “XE”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) latest weekly epidemiological report.

“XE” Covid-19 variant

The WHO first reported on the XE Covid-19 variant March 22where it stated that the variant is a recombination of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variant.

Omicron BA.2 is also called “Stealth Omicron” because it is more portable than its sibling and predecessor, Omicron BA.1.

In fact, BA.2 now accounts for the majority of infections in the world, according to Reuters.

The XE Covid-19 variant is possibly more transferable than BA.2, according to the WHO’s latest report on March 29where more preliminary details are now known about the new “variant of concern”.

The WHO said: “Early estimates suggest a growth rate in the community of ~ 10 percent compared to BA.2, but this finding requires further confirmation.”

According to the WHO, the XE Covid-19 variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom (UK) on 19 January.

637 XE cases in the United Kingdom

While the WHO’s findings on the XE Covid-19 variant were newer, the UK similarly reported that the XE Covid-19 variant was likely to be more transferable than the Omicron BA.2.

Using the latest data up to 16 March, the UK Health Services Agency (HSA) report on 25 March found that the XE Covid-19 variant has a weekly growth rate 9.8 percent over that for BA.2.

There were 637 XE cases in England on March 25th.

Is XE a variant of concern?

TL; DR: XE may not be a cause for concern.

Although there is evidence of XE transmission in English communities, the new variant currently accounts for less than 1 percent of the total number of sequenced cases, the UK HSA said.

It also warned that there is currently insufficient evidence to draw true conclusions about the growth benefits of the new XE Covid-19 variant, or its other characteristics, such as its transferability, severity or vaccine efficacy.

To further develop XE’s 9.8 percent weekly growth rate, the UK HSA said: “As this estimate has not remained consistent as new data has been added, it can not yet be interpreted as an estimate of the recombinant growth benefit.”

Although XE is more transferable than BA.2, it may not be a cause for concern based on current BA.2 data.

This is because although BA.2 is more transmissible and now dominates globally, a new wave of infections of the BA.2 variant has not yet been reported.

In addition, the Omicron scale, which includes the BA.2 variant, has also declined on a global scale. The BA.2 variant is classified as Omicron as it is a subline to its parent, the Omicron variant, acc. WHO.

In its March 27 report, the WHO reported a declining trend in the number of new Covid-19 cases globally, and the number of new Covid-19 cases decreased by 14 percent from March 21 to 27 compared to the previous week.

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