New Omicron XE variant found in UK – What we know so far and symptoms

A new sub-variant of Omicron has been detected in the UK, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Government data has shown that overall Covid cases are still declining, with 79,310 testing positive over the past seven days, representing a fall of 39.5% over the previous seven days.

However, the WHO has warned this Omicron variant, called Omicron XE, could be more transmissible than its previous form.

Here’s all the info of what we know so far about the new Omicron XE variant.

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What we know so far about the Omicron XE variant

As reported by The Independent, XE combines genetic characteristics of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants, in what is known as a “recombinant”.

The WHO released a report last week that said this XE recombinant was first detected in the UK on January 19, and that early tests indicated it could be more transmissible.

It said: “Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation.

“XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported.”


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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Monday that the most recent data showed XE had a growth rate 9.8% above BA.2.

However, it cautioned that “as this estimate has not remained consistent as new data have been added, it cannot yet be interpreted as an estimate of growth advantage for the recombinant.”

The UKHSA has said that as of March 22, 637 cases of XE had been detected in England.

What are the symptoms of the Omicron XE variant?

It has not been reported that the Omicron XE variant has any new symptoms that previous variants did not already cause.

This would include running noses, sneezing and sore throats, which is more likely than frequent coughing which is what the original strain was more strongly known for.

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