A THAI virologist urged the public to not fear the new Omicron variant XE, a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 strains, any more than they do BA. 2 that has spread across the country because the two of them look a hundred percent alike, Sanook.com and Matichon newspaper said.
Dr. Anan Jongkaewwattana, director of the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology’s Veterinary Health Innovation and Management Research Group, revealed his finding after it was reported yesterday that Ramathibodi Hospital had detected the XE variant in a Thai patient.
This patient was in the green group and had minor symptoms and has now recovered. Random ATK testing of people around him did not find anyone infected.
However this hospital’s Medical Genome Centre said Massarray Genotyping screening had found that another patient was infected with Deltcron variant, that contains elements of Delta and Omicron – in other words, it contains genes from both variants, making it what is known as a recombinant virus. However this has still to be confirmed through additional examination.
Even so, Dr Anan, said this in his post today:
“Looks like XE and BA.2 are 100% the same, but right now people are afraid as if it is a new strain … if you were previously infected with BA.2 then XE shouldn’t be able to do anything … don’t be afraid of XE more than you are of BA.2 which is all over the country right now.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a warning against the XE variant of Omicron, saying that may be more transmissible than any strain of Covid-19 seen before, according to a report published by Express.co.uk
According to reports, the new variant is 10 percent more transmissible than the BA.2 subvariant, which is already the most contagious.
According to the WHO, BA.2 the most dominant strain of the virus, being 86 percent of all sequenced cases attributed to it.
While XE only accounts for a small fraction of the cases, its extremely high transmissibility could mean that it becomes the most dominant strain in the near future.
Later the WHO issued a report outlining their initial findings of this potentially new variant of concern.
The report said: “The XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2), was first detected in the UK on January 19 and less than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since.
Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation.”
The global health body noted that until they can detect “significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity”, XE will remain categorised as a part of the Omicron variant.
The report continued: “WHO continues to closely monitor and assess the public health risk associated with recombinant variants, alongside other SARS-CoV-2 variants, and will provide updates as further evidence becomes available.”
The WHO also raised concerns over the significant reduction in testing for Covid-19, as countries around the world reopen.
Graphic images of Omicron variants. Top photo: BusinessToday.in, Home Page photo: Wionews.com