First detected in the UK, find out the details of this ‘highly transmissible’ strain

The new Omicron strain – XE – has now emerged in India, with the first case detected in Maharashtra’s capital, Mumbai. In a statement, the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation said that of the 230 patients infected with Covid, one was infected with the XE strain and another with the Kapa variant. Twenty-one patients required hospitalization, but none required oxygen.

The XE variant is shown to be more transmissible than previous strains of the novel coronavirus. The WHO said the new strain is known as recombinant XE, which means it is a mutant hybrid of the two previous versions of the Omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new Omicron strain:

  1. According to the UK Health Security Agency, the new Omicron strain is referred to as a stealth variant due to its ability to evade detection.
  2. The new strain of the Omicron variant appears to be more transmissible than all previous strains. In its latest update, the WHO said the new strain is known as recombinant XE (BA.1-BA.2). XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, can be reported. A recombinant strain means that it is a mutant hybrid of the two previous versions of the Omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2.
  3. The new strain was first detected in the UK on January 19 and over 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since then.
  4. Early estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10% over BA.2. This finding, however, requires further confirmation. The BA.2 was considered the most contagious of all the variants so
    far.
  5. According to the WHO, the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is still the most dominant since 86% of all sequenced cases are attributed to it. Recombinant XE accounts for only a small fraction of cases, but its extremely high transmissibility could mean it will become the most dominant strain in the near future.

(With contributions from the agency)

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Edward L. Robinett