When we are just suffering from the potential threat of WW3, our old nemesis in new form seems to have appeared in front of us, again.
Well, I meant to say, as we already had been going through the turmoil of covid19 and its various variants. Another threat has appeared. That is no other than a new covid variant – XE.
- What is it?
- Are we heading to a new covid wave?
- A brief to previous coronavirus variants
We will discuss just now.
What is it?
Covid variant XE is a new variant that is formed due to recombination of Omicron subvariants BA.1 and BA.2.
We already have other Omicron subvariants such as BA.3 (under the observation of WHO), BA.4 and BA.5 (added in the list by WHO to monitor due to some additional mutations observed). Among these, BA.2 is the world dominant i.e., dominating more than ¾ of all the covid cases with somewhat up and down scenarios within different countries.
BA.2 is called as the stealth omicron as its sister BA.1 has a missing gene that’s making it to be tracked easily by the PCR testing. However, BA.2 can be found only by genomic sequencing making it harder to detect. Hence the name.
BA.2 is weaker than its predecessor, Delta which had created a havoc in the world for several months and had created huge covid wave. However, BA.2 has high transmissible properties, higher than the Delta.
The new (sub)variant XE was first detected in the UK in January, 2022.
It is said to be 10% more faster than its predecessor i.e., Omicron. The symptoms, what we have observed till now, are similar to that of original Omicron. There are only a few cases of severity and most cases are mild.
Are we heading to a new covid wave?
This is a very concerning question seeing covid wave again and again especially when each time we think that it has ended. But by some black magic, it keeps on appearing. Well, that is just mutation and it is actually not something magic but just evolution of virus due to some mutations in its structural proteins.
Now, to answer the question, we don’t know ‘yet’. As I said, the virus itself it just a subvariant of Omicron hence it is apparently mild. But due to its transmission, now it has already spread into Japan, China, India, Israel, Thailand and some unidentified cases have been observed in the US as well.
So, seeing all this it looks like that ‘it’ has begun already. But there’s no need to panic. The only thing is needed is the precaution that we were doing earlier. If we have allowance of booster shots then get them as well.
Previous Coronavirus variants
By the way, if you don’t know, we have identified more than 10 coronavirus variants so far. Actually, more than that but these are major ones and others are generally subvariants of these major ones.
The major variants and their discoveries are:
- B.1.1.7 (Alpha) – United Kingdom, Sep 2020
- B.1.351 (Beta) – South Africa, May 2020
- P.1 (Gamma) – Brazil, November 2020
- B.1.617.2 (Delta) – India, October 2020
- B.1.1.529 (Omicron) – Multiple countries, November 2021
- B.1.427 and B.1.429 (Epsilon) – USA, March 2020
- P.2 (Zeta) – Brazil, April 2020
- B.1.525 (Eta) – Multiple countries, December 2020
- P.3 (Theta) – Philippines, January 2021
- B.1.526 (Iota) – USA, November 2020
- B.1.617.1 (Kappa) – India, October 2020
- C.37 (Lambda) – Peru, December 2020
- B.1.621 (Mu) – Colombia, January 2021
Here, First five are VOC and rest are VOI.
And now what does VOC and VOI mean?
According to WHO, there definitions are:
In other words, VOC has more evidence of transmissibility, severity, impact on diagnosis, vaccines and treatment.
Where as, VOI are predicted to affect all these.
Other thing to remember is that, according to WHO, right now there are no circulating VOIs.
Hope you have loved the article. If you have any question, just drop a comment and I will be sure to answer as soon as I can.
Just follow the precautions. Remember, the pandemic has not ended yet and it won’t if we will loose our strictness.