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Here’s how the XE COVID variant differs from others, according to a Chicago scientist – NBC Chicago


While the coronavirus has receded in the US, cases are skyrocketing in the UK, where scientists are also monitoring a new hybrid strain – the XE variant.

XE, which consists of material from BA.1, the original omicron strain, and its BA.2 subvariant, first surfaced in mid-January. More than 600 cases in the UK have been confirmed since then, according to health authorities.

Early studies show that XE may be more transmissible than the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant, up to 10%. However, more studies are needed, according to the World Health Organization.

“Whenever there is a more transmissible virus, it has the chance to become the predominant virus in the world,” said Hannah Barbian, genomic epidemiologist at the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab at Rush University Medical Center.

Even though COVID-19 cases are down in the Chicago area, Barbian and his colleagues at the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab continue to sequence samples.

Nearly 100 recent samples were tested Monday as epidemiologists worked to determine which strains of COVID are present in Chicago. So far, no cases of the XE variant have been detected.

The most recent strain, Barbian explained, is a recombinant virus, meaning it contains parts of two different variants rearranged into a new virus.

As XE continues to cause concern overseas, the omicron BA.2 subvariant has become the dominant strain in the United States.

“The RIPL data matches the CDC projections, so we see about half of the sequences are BA.2,” Barbian noted.

The UK has reported a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, with authorities estimating one in 13 people have been infected in the past week.

So far during the pandemic, new strains and outbreaks have hit Europe and China first, so scientists are keeping a close eye on what happens there.

“The US hasn’t seen evidence of a new outbreak yet, so I think this might be the exception. We’re not sure, but I think we still want to know the virus dynamics in our area. .”

The scientist added that COVID vaccines have been effective against all variants that have surfaced, when it comes to preventing hospitalizations and deaths. However, more studies are needed to see what impact vaccines might have on the XE variant.

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

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