scorecardresearch
New COVID mutant XE may be the most transmissible yet, says WHO

New COVID mutant XE may be the most transmissible yet, says WHO

New COVID-19 mutant called 'XE' appears to be around 10 per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new mutant XE was first detected in the United Kingdom n (UK) on January 19. (Representative Image) The new mutant XE was first detected in the United Kingdom n (UK) on January 19. (Representative Image)

A new mutant of Covid-19 called 'XE' appears to be about ten per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, as per the WHO.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that a newly identified mutant of the novel coronavirus known as XE appears to be around 10 per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron. 

This is significant as up till now the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron was considered to be the most contagious strain of the novel coronavirus. Currently, the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is spreading to different areas across the globe. It is behind most of the fresh COVID-19 infections being reported in the United States. 

What is this XE mutant of the coronavirus? 

The new mutant variant XE is a hybrid of two versions of Omicron. These are the BA.1 and BA.2. However, right now XE only accounts for a small number of COVID-19 cases across the planet. 

When and where was XE mutant detected? 

The new mutant XE was first detected in the United Kingdom n (UK) on January 19. "The XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2), was first detected in the UK on January 19 and less than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since," noted WHO in a report published earlier this week. 

How transmissible is mutant COVID-19 mutant XE? 

"Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation," WHO said about the XE variant. 

According to the global health body, until significant differences in characteristics, such as severity and transmission, are noted in the XE mutant, it will continue to be classified as part of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

Other coronavirus mutants

Three new recombinant strains are currently spreading across the world, according to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). These are - XD, XE and XF. A recombinant strain is the one that constitutes two previously-distinct variants of the virus. 

XD 

This variant refers to the hybrid of Delta x BA.1 lineage of Omicron. It has been detected in France, Denmark and Belgium, as per reports. XD's spread to more than one country and having the most virulent Delta strain in it makes it a mutant to look out for, according to virologist Tom Peacock from Imperial College London.

XE

This is the hybrid of BA.1 x BA.2 sub-variants of Omicron. XE has been found in Britain. The mutant has also shown evidence of community transmission.

XF 

This is another hybrid of Delta x BA.1 lineage of Omicron. XF was found in Britain, however, it has not been detected since February 15.

Also read: ZyCoV-D plasmid DNA COVID vaccine efficacious, safe: Lancet on Phase 3 trials

Also read: WHO selects Biological E as recipient of mRNA tech to make COVID vaccines