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Omicron XE variant: Why we still don’t know that much about it

The omicron XE variant combines two previous COVID-19 strains

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An illustration of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The omicron XE variant combines two previous COVID-19 strains

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

European scientists still don’t know much about the new omicron XE variant or its severity.

Driving the news: The new omicron XE variant appears to be a recombinant that combines the newer BA.2 variant of omicron and the original omicron variant strain, as I wrote for the Deseret News.


What’s happening: Authorities with the United Kingdom Health Service Agency are still monitoring the new omicron XE variant, which emerged in the U.K. amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases, per CNBC.

What they’re saying: “This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a true growth advantage. So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness,” professor Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s chief medical advisor, told CNBC.

The bigger picture: COVID-19 has hit a lull period in the United States. But cases have surged in China due to the omicron variant, and the U.K. has seen a spike due to omicron and omicron XE.

  • Experts are still wondering whether or not this means there will be a new wave in the United States.
  • Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute, told The Associated Press that the U.S. will see a new surge due to the BA.2 coronavirus variant, which is a more-contagious version of the omicron variant.
  • But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser on the coronavirus, said he doesn’t expect a new surge of cases due to the amount of people who got the coronavirus vaccine and who have natural immunity, as I reported for the Deseret News.