A new COVID-19 variant has been dubbed “omicron XE” as it makes its way through the United Kingdom.
Driving the news: In recent weeks, the United Kingdom has seen a surge of coronavirus cases, some of which were caused by a hybrid of two omicron strains — BA.1 and BA.2.
- Experts have dubbed this hybrid omicron variant as omicron XE.
Worth noting: “It is estimated to spread 10% more easily than BA.2, which itself was more transmissible than the original omicron famous for its ease of penetration,” per Bloomberg.
What they’re saying: The World Health Organization has acknowledged the variant and has issued warnings about its transmissibility, saying it spreads much faster compared to previous variants, per NDTV.
Flashback: Leaders in Israel discovered two travelers who had been infected by a variant that was a combination of the BA.1 (omicron) and infectious BA.2 (stealth omicron) variants, per Haaretz.
- Thailand said it saw a similar variant in recent days, calling it the “BA.2.2” variant.
The bigger picture: Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UK Health Security Agency, said there’s no major reason to panic over the new variant yet, per NBC Chicago.
- “This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a true growth advantage,” she said.
- “Recombinant variants are not an unusual occurrence, particularly when there are several variants in circulation, and several have been identified over the course of the pandemic to date,” Hopkins said.
- “As with other kinds of variant, most will die off relatively quickly.”