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After 'Deltacron', WHO Warns of New Covid Recombinant Variant XE. All About Strains in Focus

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: April 02, 2022, 10:51 IST

A woman walks past a graffiti, on a street, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India, April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

A woman walks past a graffiti, on a street, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India, April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

The XE is recombinant of two sublineages of the Omicron variants, BA.1 and BA.2, but it has three mutations that are not present in their parent sequences

A recent report issued by the World Health Organization has announced the emergence of another coronavirus variant – a mutant strain XE, which is a hybrid strain of two Omicron subvariants, found in Britain. The XE is recombinant of two sublineages of the Omicron variants, BA.1 and BA.2, but it has three mutations that are not present in their parent sequences. This type of a variant is called a recombinant.

Recombinants can emerge when multiple variants infect the same person at the same time, allowing the variants to interact during replication, mix up their genetic material, and form new combinations, a paper published in the British Medical Journal notes.

Although experts have pointed out that there is no reason for panic, there are currently three hybrid or recombinant viruses have been detected - XD, XE, XF. The two different combinations of Delta and BA.1 are XD and XF. The third is XE.

The XD is the hybrid of Delta and BA.1, a sublineage of the Omicron variant and has been found mostly in France, Denmark and Belgium.

The XE is recombinant of two sublineages of the Omicron variants, BA.1 and BA.2, but it has three mutations that are not present in their parent sequences. It has been found in Britain only.

XF is the recombinant between Delta and BA.1 but only been detected in Britain so far.

The WHO in its report said, “The XE recombinant was first detected in the United Kingdom on 19 January and >600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since.”

“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of ~10% as compared to BA.2, however this finding requires further confirmation.”

Professor Susan Hopkins, Britain’s Health Security Agency’s chief medical adviser, told South China Morning Post that XE had shown a variable growth rate but the agency could not yet confirm whether it had a true growth advantage. “So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness,” she said.

Virologist Tom Peacock from Imperial College London told SCMP such variants were identified by standard PCR tests and should be picked up by rapid self-testing kits too.

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first published:April 02, 2022, 10:42 IST
last updated:April 02, 2022, 10:51 IST
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