UK Health Security Agency Reports 3 "New" Variants of COVID: XE, XF and XD

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UK Health Security Agency Reports 3 "New" Variants of COVID: XE, XF and XD

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The UK Health Security Agency has stated that the UK is currently witnessing three recombinant variants of COVID, dubbed XE, XF, and XD, apart from the existing cases of Omicron and Delta.

According to the report, the recombinant variants XD and XF are a combination of the previous strains of Delta and BA.1.

It adds that XD has an Omicron S gene as well as a Delta genome, requires biological characterisation. The report adds that XF caused a small cluster in the UK but has not been detected since 15 February 2022.

The report adds that XE, which is a BA.1/BA.2 recombinant shows evidence of community transmission within England, although this accounts for less than 1 percent of total sequenced cases. XE is a recombinant of BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains.

A report in The Express quotes the World Health Organization as stating that XE is a particular cause of concern because it has a higher transmissibility rate. The report adds:

"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.

It adds that "early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation."

The report adds that until the WHO identifies significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, XE will continue to stay under the Omicron classification.

Experts have warned of possible recombinant variants of COVID, like Deltacron, which display the traits of other variants like Delta and Omicron.

Virologist Tom Peacock has stated that while there are several recombinant variants of COVID being witnessed and designated every day, like XM, XQ, XL, and XR, all of them have been outdone by the spread of BA.2 Omicron.

"WHO continues to closely monitor and assess the public health risk associated with recombinant variants, alongside other SARS-CoV-2 variants, and will provide updates as further evidence becomes available."
WHO report, as quoted in The Express

American epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove in a conversation with the World Health Organisation stated that many variants and offshoots of COVID-19 are highly likely in the process of weaning off of the virus. She added that this was a normal part of the process.

She also warned people to continue being cautious and follow mask rules and safety measures, adding that the pandemic is not over.

(With inputs from The Express)

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