New variant, Omicron XE, detected in UK

pharmafile | April 6, 2022 | News story | Research and Development  

A new sub-variant of Omicron has been found in the UK, as the country experiences a new surge of COVID-19.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 4.9 million people in the UK had COVID-19 as of last weekend, which is a record high during the pandemic.

The surge in cases is likely due to more free-mixing in the wake of relaxing restrictions. The emergence of the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant, known as Stealth Omicron, has also driven the rise in cases.

WHO has also warned of a further mutation that has been detected, which could be more transmissible. XE is a mutation of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, which is referred to as a “recombinant”. It was first detected in the UK on January 19th, and early tests showed that it could be more transmissible.

A report by WHO said: “Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10% 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.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSCA) said that the most recent data showed XE had a growth rate 9.8% above BA.2. It also cautioned that “as this estimate has not remained consistent as new data have been added, it cannot yet be interpreted as an estimate of growth advantage for the recombinant.”

As it stands, it is not thought that XE manifests in new symptoms. The most common symptoms of the original strain of Omicron are similar to that of a cold. This includes a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat.

Lina Adams

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