Latest COVID variant, XE, could be more contagious than BA.2

Leada Gore (TNS)

Even as the omicron subvariant BA.2 becomes the dominant COVID strain in the U.S., health officials are warning of the next variant that could possibly be even more contagious.

The variant, XE, is compromised of genetic material from two other strains — BA.1, the original omicron strain, and BA.2, or “stealth” omicron, a name given for its ability to evade certain types of tests, NBC Chicago reported. It’s referred to as a “recombinant strain,” meaning it is made up of two previously distinct variant.

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Preliminary reports from the World Health Organization indicate XE is 10% more transmissible than BA.2, though those findings are still be investigated.

The variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in mid-January. Since then, some 600 cases of XE have been reported.

WHO said it is monitoring the variant and will offer updates as more data becomes available.

BA.2 is now being blamed for more than half of all COVID infections in the U.S. The hardest-hit area is the Northeast, where it is blamed for more than 70% of all cases.