New COVID ‘XE Variant’ Detected In UK, Here’s Everything You Need To Know

More than 600 cases have been identified in the UK so far


A new coronavirus variant, called XE, has been identified in the UK. The latest research from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reveals that XE is a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, referred to as a ‘recombinant’.

As of 22 March, there have been a confirmed 637 cases of XE in the UK, with the earliest recorded on 19 January 2022. According to the most recent data, as of 16 March 2022, the variant had a growth rate 9.8 per cent above that of the stealth variant, the UKHSCA said.

But the body cautioned that ‘as this estimate has not remained consistent as new data have been added, it cannot yet be interpreted as an estimate of growth advantage for the recombinant.’ “Numbers were too small for the XE recombinant to be analyzed by region,” the UKHSCA said.

A recombinant variant occurs when an individual becomes infected with two or more variants at the same time, resulting in a mixing of their genetic material within the patient’s body, the UKHSA said. It added that it is not an ‘unusual occurrence’ and ‘as with any other coronavirus variant, the vast majority do not confer any advantage to the virus and die out relatively quickly.’

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