If both the Omicron variant and the BA2 subvariant are already highly transmissible, scientists believe another Omicron subvariant is even more so. The XE subvariant, first discovered in the UK, may actually be the most contagious strain of the virus. Here’s everything we know about this hybrid variant.
A subvariant combining mutations of BA1 and BA2
While the Covid-19 pandemic has been somewhat overshadowed by many geopolitical and social issues around the world, the disease is still here and the virus is still progressing. While the Omicron variant and its BA2 subvariant have been the most highly transmissible strains of the virus, other subvariants that may be even more contagious are now emerging, particularly with regard to the XE strain. British authorities estimate that this hybrid variant is between 5 and 10% more contagious than the BA2 subvariant.
First discovered in the UK in January, this subvariant is a combination of BA1 – the original strain of Omicron – and the BA2 subvariant. In fact, such a phenomenon is quite possible, and it happens ” when a SARS-CoV-2 strain ingests genetic material from another SARS-CoV-2 strain ‘ she explained dr Andrew BadleyInfectious disease expert at Mayo Clinicaccording to a report by time. These hybrid strains of the virus, known as recombinant variants, are therefore created when two variants infect the same cell in the body at the same time.
At the moment there is nothing to worry about
Note that the XE subline is not the only recombinant variant of SARS-CoV-2 discovered so far, and that there are already many hybrid variants, including a combination of the Delta variant and Omicron, called Deltacron. As for the XE hybrid variant, the latest research from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that it may be more easily transmissible than any previously detected Covid-19 strain. Therefore, the WHO has included this subline of Omicron in the list of variants of concern.
Either way, experts believe that too little information is available on this hybrid subline. In other words, it means it’s too early to comment. In addition, there is also no evidence at this stage that the XE subvariant causes more severe disease than the other strains. The same applies to subline resistance to vaccines. Therefore, scientists continue to monitor this subline to determine if it poses a public health hazard.
If there is nothing to report for the time being, the health authorities continue to advise caution. In other words, they advise continuing to implement barrier gestures but also getting vaccinated. In fact, vaccines so far have proven more or less effective in preventing severe forms of the disease and hospitalizations, despite the immune evasion seen in Omicron and its subvariants. In addition to preventing the spread of the various existing virus strains, experts believe that these measures are also necessary to limit the likelihood of new SARS-CoV-2 mutations emerging.