A new variant of omicron appears in the UK, but it is ‘too early to know’ how widespread it is

A new type of Covid-19 virus has been discovered in the UK, but experts say it is too soon to know if it is more transmissible than previous strains.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSCA) said it is studying XE, the so-called “recombinant” mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 strains of omicron.

The government body said that as of March 22, 637 cases of XE had been detected in England, just a small part of the tens of thousands of Covid-19 cases being reported daily since restrictions were lifted.

Early growth rates of XE were not significantly different from those of BA.2, also known as “stealth” omicron.

But using the latest data up to March 16, 2022, it has now achieved a growth rate of 9.8 per cent above the stealth variant, according to UKHSCA.

Susan Hopkins talks about the new alternative

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However, the agency cautioned that “since this estimate has not remained consistent with the addition of new data, it cannot yet be interpreted as an estimate of the growth advantage for the recombinant.”

“The numbers were too small to analyze recombinant XE by region,” UKHSCA said.

Professor Susan Hopkins, Head of Transition for Medical Consultants at UKHSA, emphasized that recombinant variants are not uncommon and usually die ‘relatively quickly’.

“This particular recombinant variant, XE, showed an altered growth rate and we cannot confirm whether it has a real growth advantage,” Hopkins explained. the sun.

“To date there is insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions about the transmissibility, severity or efficacy of the vaccine.”

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Covid-19 hospital admissions rise again in England

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The UKHSA report added: “XE shows evidence of community transmission within England, although it is currently less than one per cent of all serial cases.”

According to official figures, a record number of people in the UK have contracted Covid-19 in the past week.

The National Bureau of Statistics indicated that one in 13 people, or 4.9 million people, contracted the virus in the week ending March 26. That number is up from 4.3 million in the previous week.

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