What You Need to Know About Covid-19's Mutant XE

What You Need to Know About Covid-19's Mutant XE
What You Need to Know About Covid-19's Mutant XE

Professor from Memorial Kayseri Hospital, Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology. Dr. Ayşegül Ulu Kılıç gave information about the XE variant and what to watch out for.

A new subtype of Omicron, the variant of Covid-6, which has become the dominant disease all over the world and has killed more than 19 million people, has been identified. The new XE virus, formed by the merger of Omicron's sub-variants BA.1 and BA.2, is described as a fully 'mutant' species. While many countries in the world are preparing to remove the measures taken due to the pandemic, this new hybrid mutant virus detected in many countries, including the UK and Thailand, causes concern. Professor from Memorial Kayseri Hospital, Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology. Dr. Ayşegül Ulu Kılıç gave information about the XE variant and what to watch out for.

New virus is a 'recombinant'

The identification of a new variant resulting from the fusion of BA.1 and BA.2, subtypes of the Omicron variant, raises concerns in healthcare circles. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against a new mutant, the 'XE' variant, that may be more contagious than any type of Covid-19 seen before. It was stated that this new variant is a recombinant strain resulting from a genetic recombination. The XE variant was identified as a 'mutant' hybrid of two previous versions of Omicron, BA.1 and BA.2. This variant is reported to be 2% more infectious than the BA.10 subvariant, currently the most contagious strain. According to WHO, BA.2, a sub-variant of Omicron, is the most dominant strain of the virus, accounting for 86% of all cases sequenced to it. While XE currently accounts for only a small fraction of cases, this hybrid mutant is thought to be the most dominant strain in the near future due to its extremely high contagiousness.

More than 600 cases identified

WHO has recently published a report summarizing its initial findings regarding a potentially identified and alarming new species. In this report, he announced that the XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2) was first detected in the UK on 19 January, with more than 600 cases reported since then. It was emphasized that according to the first estimates, it is thought that there is a 2% advantage in the spread rate in the society compared to BA.10. However, it was stated that this finding needs to be confirmed. On the other hand, categorization of XE as part of the Omicron variant should be considered until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including disease severity, are identified.

Be careful with XE

A recombinant variant occurs when a person is infected with 2 or more variants at the same time, resulting in the mixing of their genetic material in the patient's body. This is not unusual and several recombinant SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified throughout the pandemic. 3 recombinants known as XF, XE and XD are under investigation. Of these, XD and XF are recombinants of Delta and Omicron BA.1, while XE is a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. To date, 38 cases of XF have been identified in the UK. However, none of these variants have been seen since mid-February. Although 49 cases have been reported to global databases for XD, most of them were identified in France. A large number of cases were identified from the XE strain, which is a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. All SARS-CoV-2 variants as well as recombinant variants need to be closely monitored and evaluated for public health risk.

Symptoms are the same as other variants

Symptoms of the XE variant are listed as follows:

  • High fever, cough and shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Body, head and sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite and diarrhea
  • Rarely, loss of taste and smell

It is very important to be vaccinated and take precautions.

Covid-19, which has affected the lives of millions of people to date, continues to exist with its sub-variants. In this case, vaccination, which is the most important shield against the virus, should not be neglected. However, it is important to pay attention to the use of masks, social distance and necessary hygiene measures in closed areas. In order to keep the immune system strong, care should be taken to eat healthy, daily physical activities should be increased, and regular health checks should be given importance to the protection of general health.

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