#Covid: New Variant XE More Transmissible Than Omicron: WHO

The World Health Organization said in its latest report that a new Covid variant has been found in the UK and the new mutant has been named XE. It is likely to be more transmissible than any strain of COVID-19 so far, the health body said. XE is a “recombinant” which is a mutation of BA’1 and BA.2 Omicron strains.

Recombinant mutations only happen when a person is infected by multiple variants of Covid. The variants mix up their genetic material during replication and form a new mutation. As per the WHO, the new mutation XE maybe 10 per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.

“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation,” the global health body added.

XE was first detected on January 19 and 637 cases of the new variant have been reported yet. On the other hand, the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is spreading rapidly across the globe. Nearly 4.9 million people in the UK are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the last week of March. The US and China also reported a surge in Covid cases driven by the BA.2 variant.

China reported nearly 104,000 domestic Covid infections in March, with 90 percent of the recent cases found in Shanghai or northeastern Jilin province. On Sunday, it reported 13,000 Covid cases, being the most since the peak of the first pandemic wave over two years ago. The highly transmissible Omicron variant has spread to more than a dozen provinces.