In the UK, scientists have recently identified a recombinant variant of SARS-CoV-2 termed XE, which is a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned XE may be the most transmissible variant of SARS-CoV2 yet.
However, it is important to monitor such variants closely to identify recombinants that may have immune-escape properties, meaning they can cause Covid-19 infection even in those who have been infected previously.
A recombinant variant occurs when an individual becomes infected with two or more variants at the same time, resulting in a mixing of their genetic material within the patient’s body. This is not an unusual occurrence and several recombinant SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified over the course of the pandemic, the UK scientists say.
XD is present in several European countries, but has not been detected in the UK, according to the report. XF caused a small cluster in the UK but has not been detected there since February 15. The variant of greater concern, it seems, is the one dubbed XE.
Like the other two new arrivals, XE is a recombinant strain, meaning it is made up of two previously-distinct variants. But it is not a Deltacron mix. XE is actually made up of the original Omicron (BA.1) and the newer Omicron (BA.2) which has taken over in the U.S.