As of 5 April 2022, 1,125 cases of XE – a new minor variant – have been identified in the UK, up from 637 on 25 March.
Dominic Lipinski | Pascal | Getty Images
Japan reported its first case of Omicron XE – a new strain of COVID-19 first It was discovered in the United Kingdom Just like the British cases of dependent ascension.
The XE variant was found in a woman in her 30s who arrived at Narita International Airport from the United States on March 26. Japan’s health ministry said on Monday that the woman, whose nationality was not immediately disclosed, had no symptoms.
It comes as cases of the new strain have nearly doubled in Britain, according to the latest statistics from UK Health Security Agency.
As of 5 April, 1,125 cases of XE had been identified in the UK, up from 637 on 25 March. The date of the first confirmed case was January 19 this year, indicating that it could have been circulating in the population for several months.
XE has since been discovered in ThailandAnd India And Israel. It is suspected that the recent Israeli cases may have developed independently. The United States has not yet reported any cases of XE.
What is Omicron XE?
XE is what’s known as “recombinant,” a type of variant that can occur when an individual is infected with two or more variants at the same time, causing their genetic material to get mixed up inside the patient’s body.
In the case of XE, it contains a mixture of the previously highly contagious omicron BA.1 strain, which emerged in late 2021, and the more recent ‘stealth’ variant BA.2, which is the variant currently prevalent in the UK.
These combinations are not common, they have occurred several times during the cycle coronavirus pandemic. However, health experts say it is too early to draw conclusions about the severity of the new variant or its ability to evade vaccines.
“We continue to monitor cases of recombinant XE variant in the UK, which currently represents a very small proportion of cases,” said Mira Chand, UKHSA’s director of clinical and emerging infections, in a statement.
On Sunday, the UK reported 41,469 new cases of COVID-19, with a seven-day average of 59,578 cases. As such, XE will likely represent only a small percentage of all Covid cases currently.
How should we be concerned?
Early estimates suggest that XE may be more transmissible than earlier strains, having so far shown a slightly higher growth rate than its predecessor.
UKHSA data shows that XE has a . file Growth rate 9.8% higher than BA.2, while the World Health Organization has so far estimated this figure at 10%.
However, experts say they expect it to wane in severity even as it spreads more easily. The XE has not yet been announced as a worrying alternative.
“XE appears to be moving in the same direction as BA.2, with increased transmissibility to BA.1 but less severe,” Jennifer Horney, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Delaware, told CNBC.
“He’s the devil we know, so to speak. [It is] Mark Cameron, MD, associate professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, essentially added re-shuffles.
XE contains spike proteins and structural proteins from the same family of viruses, the omicron, which means that, in theory at least, it should behave as the omicron did before. Therefore, existing vaccines and immunity must provide some level of protection against infection.
“Recombinants containing structural and spike proteins from a single virus (such as XE or XF) are more or less likely to act similarly. [their] Parents virus,” Tom Peacock, a virologist in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, wrote in Tweet thread In the middle of March. XF stands for Another recombinant It was previously discovered in the UK in February.
However, other recombinants containing structural proteins and proteins from different viral families continue to emerge. This includes XD, which was recently discovered in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, which contains structural delta proteins and omicron spike proteins which Peacock described as “more concerning.”
As such, all new emergencies should be closely monitored, especially in their early stages, to ensure they do not develop into something more serious.
“The virus is still able to evolve and recreate a new branch of its family tree,” Cameron said.
“The main takeaway is that for each of these variables and subvariables, the risk of hospitalization and death appears, on average, to be lower where vaccination rates are higher, indicating that vaccination, including a third dose, should be effective in Reduce the risk of severe infection, added Stephanie Silvera, professor of public health at Montclair State University.
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