Variant XE of Covid: what we know about this new mutation of the coronavirus

The XE variant may be more contagious than previous Covid mutations. Its spread is closely observed by scientists. For now, there is no reason to be alarmed. Here’s what you need to know.

XE: this is the name of the new variant of Covid detected in Great Britain and India. A logical mutation in the life of a virus which, like any new strain, is closely watched by medical experts.

A combination of two strains of Omicron

The Covid XE variant is a combination of two Omicron strains, BA.1 and BA.2. Such creation occurs when people are infected with multiple variants. The genetic material of the virus is modified and the patient infects other people. The spread is then more or less rapid, depending on the rate of contagiousness of the new variant.

“Recombinant XE (BA.1-BA.2), was first detected in the UK on January 19 and over 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since. (…) Early estimates indicate a ~10% advantage for community growth rate compared to BA.2,” the WHO says in its latest bulletin. Clearly, the XE variant could be up to 10% more contagious. First data that remains to be confirmed.

A WHO follow-up

The WHO says it “continues to closely monitor and assess the public health risk associated with recombinant and non-recombinant variants of SARS-CoV-2.” Information will be distilled as data is revealed. In the United Kingdom too, the first reports from the field on the variant show a higher growth rate of nearly 10%.

Regarding the symptoms, these would be the same as with Omicron: runny nose, sneezing, sore throat.

According to the information center of TF1XE was reportedly detected in Finland and Israel. It therefore seems likely that several cases are already in circulation in France.

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