New Omicron variant: What we know about the XE mutation

UK report on rising case numbers: New Omicron hybrid: What we know about the XE variant

In Great Britain, the authorities are reporting an increasing number of infections with a new type of Omicron. So it has three more mutations and it is a mixture of the original omicron and BA.2. We explain what you need to know about Omikron-XE.

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The new Omikron XE variant is now attracting a great deal of attention. The UK faces many hospitalized patients and high infection rates. The combination of BA.1 and BA.2 is actually not entirely new.

The first confirmed case of XE in England was on January 19 this year. The variant may have been circulating in the population for several months. Now, however, experts are watching them closely.

Where has Omikron-XE been discovered so far?

So far, the XE variant represents less than one per cent of all Covid cases in the UK that have had their genomes sequenced there. Omikron-XE has also performed in Thailand and presumably in Mumbai, India.

However, a more detailed analysis of the virus sample from India later revealed that it does not meet the definition of XE by the World Health Organization (WHO), “NDTV” reported.


Similar to the BA.1 and BA.2 variants, this coronavirus mutation could also spread in Germany. They triumphed over the earlier variants – mainly because they spread faster.

How contagious is Omicron-XE?

Preliminary evidence suggests that Omikron-XE is more contagious than the Omikron Brothers. In its statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated it to be 10 percent more transferable than BA.2. However, this still needs to be proven with further investigations.


UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) statistics indicate that the XE variant in 630 patients is well. They emphasized that there is not enough information yet to draw conclusions about portability. “Variant XE has shown a variable growth rate, and we can’t yet confirm whether it actually has a growth advantage,” UKHSA epidemiologist Susan Hopkins told The Sun. The severity of disease of this type is currently similarly unclear.

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How did Omikron-XE appear?

XE is known to be a mixture of the already known highly infectious BA.1 strain and the BA.2 variant of Omikron. Then the experts talk about the combinations. This can happen when a person is infected with two or more variants at the same time, resulting in the mixing of the viral genetic material in the patient’s body. These combinations have appeared several times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does Omicron-XE look like?

XE is composed of BA.1 and BA.2, in which it shares the majority of the genome as well as the S protein region with BA.2. In addition, Omicron-XE contains three new mutations.

Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) includes the virus type, which has recently come into focus, in the omicron family. The World Health Organization has not yet announced that XE is the new alternative to the concern. Accordingly, she did not get a new Greek letter – similar to BA.2, which is genetically related only to BA.1.

Do the Omikron-XE vaccinations work?

It is still not possible to assess what the changes in the virus mean in terms of vaccines. Until “significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity” are reported, the WHO will classify XE under omicron.

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How concerned is the spread of Omicron-XE?

The fact that the coronavirus continues to change and adapt to humans through mutations is completely normal. So experts naturally assume that new variants will appear on a regular basis. Combinations of two subspecies are also no surprise.

“We know these have already happened,” said Ulf Dittmer, head of the Institute of Virology at the University Hospital in Essen, some time ago in an interview with FOCUS Online. “The risk of someone infecting two different species and exchanging genetic material is real. This will continue to happen. But the question is always: Can a virus like this triumph over what is dominant?”

The virologist saw little opportunity for a “super alternative”. There are two arguments against the virus becoming as deadly and pathogenic as Delta. “One of them is that delta is very effective in deep tissue injury,” Dettmer said. This occurs less frequently in Omikron and is a defect of the distribution. “I don’t see that evolutionary path back to a virus that infects deep tissue again.”

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The second argument relates to the other four coronaviruses, which are relatively harmless. They can also genetically change and produce recombinants. However, in the past few decades, we haven’t even seen a very dangerous virus suddenly emerge from it. “We haven’t seen a development in the opposite direction there either,” the expert said.

Virologist: ‘We should not panic’

In light of the recombinant XE, international experts currently see no cause for concern. Suresh Kakani of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation told NDTV that there is nothing to worry about at this time. Virologist Liu Bo, of the University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg: “We must closely monitor new combinations, but We shouldn’t panic now. ”

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More Omikron mingles on the road in Europe

Apart from Omicron-XE, other BA.1 and BA.2 recombinants are already in circulation in Europe. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, shared a drawing on Twitter. She shows it, for example XM especially in Germany And Holland happens.

A few Omicron blends have been documented in the UK with the XR, XL, XN XP and XQ. Above all, this shows that many more virus samples are genetically analyzed on the other side of the English Channel than in this country.


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keko / with lro