A new COVID hybrid first detected in the UK could be 10% more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
There have been a total of 637 cases of XE – a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 – in the UK so far, according to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The WHO has now warned the variant could be the most transmissible yet, adding in a report: “Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation.”
It comes a day after COVID infection levels hit a record high in the UK, with around 4.9 million people estimated to have had COVID-19 in the week ending 26 March, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The UKHSA confirmed it had analysed three recombinants – XD and XF were recombinants of Delta and Omicron BA.1, while XE is a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2.
It said 637 cases of XE had been detected since 19 January but added there was currently insufficient evidence to conclude growth advantage or other properties of the variant.
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