Coronavirus: what do we know about the XE variant, reported in the United Kingdom?

First spotted on January 19, 2022, XE is believed to be a mix between the BA.1 and BA.2 variants and is believed to have infected around 637 people in Britain. Other countries followed, reporting the presence of the variant on their territory.

According to the British government website, such recombinations occur when an individual is infected with at least two variants at the same time. It is inside his body that the mixing of the genetic apparatus of the variants takes place.

A more contagious variant?

If initial estimates show that this new variant could be 10% more contagious than the BA.2 variant, which is now the majority in France, the WHO specifies that these claims require further research.

On the British government’s website, Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser of the British health safety agency, assures that “for the moment, there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions on its transmissibility, its severity or its resistance to vaccines”.

She also specifies: “Recombinant variants are not uncommon, particularly when there are several variants in circulation. Several have been identified since the start of the pandemic. Like other types of variants, most of them will die out rather quickly.”

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