The omicron XE variant continues to spread throughout the United States as restrictions loosen and mask mandates drop off.
What to know: The XE variant was dubbed a “Frankenstein” variant by Forbes writer Bruce Lee because it is a recombinant variant that merges the original omicron variant with the BA.2 variant, a subvariant of the original omicron.
- The omicron XE variant emerged in people who had been infected with two omicron variant strains — like the original strain and the BA.2 variant — at the same time.
- Recombinants like these are not rare in the pandemic. Another example is the “deltacron” variant, which combines the delta variant and the omicron variants together into one.
- There’s a chance more of these variants will emerge, too.
Of note: “One thing’s for sure, new recombinants and new variants in general of the SARS-CoV-2 will continue to emerge like bad reality TV shows,” per Forbes.
The bigger picture: The COVID-19 variant has hit somewhat of a lull period in the United States, even though new variants have emerged.
- The BA.2 variant has spread quickly and fast, but it has done little to worry Americans overall.
- The White House and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the air travel mask mandate will not be enforced after a federal judge in Florida overturned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate for public transit and airplanes.
The bottom line: “The emergence of the XE is a frank reminder that the pandemic is not over yet,” according to Forbes. “And that you should do what you should have been doing all along, maintaining appropriate Covid-19 precautions.”