Since a new variant of interest has popped up, it’s time for a mini crash course on coronavirus and its mutations again!
(Read: Heavy Sarcasm)
What is the XE Recombinant Strain?
The XE Recombinant strain is a hybrid of the two predominant Omicron sub-variants, namely BA.1 (the original) and BA.2.
A recombinant strain appears when one Sars-CoV-2 strain picks up some genetic material/mutation from another Sars-CoV-2 strain.
It isn’t exactly a rare occurrence per se; because XE isn’t the only recombinant strain that has emerged from Omicron.
However, it has proven to be more viral and concerning than the other recombinants, such as XR, XJ, and XM.
In fact, there was another recombinant strain that surfaced briefly in the midst of the Delta and Omicron waves called Deltacron.
Deltacron was named as such because the recombinant strain took on the surface protein of Omicron, while retaining the genome of Delta.
Is the XE Recombinant Strain Dangerous?
Yes and no.
From what is currently known about the XE strain, or just recombinant strains in general, they aren’t necessarily more dangerous from their genus.
Recombinant strains arise all the time, but they also have the tendency to disappear on their own.
As for the XE strain, since it stems primarily from the Omicron variant, the symptoms and the area it affects remains the same.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is understandably wary and is studying the XE strain, before they decide if it should be re-classified as a variant of concern.
Omicron BA.2 is Currently the Dominant Subvariant in Singapore
Just like how Omicron overtook Delta with its edge of higher transmissibility and virality, BA.2 quickly superseded BA1.1 in Singapore for the same reasons by February.
Although its contagiousness is a huge problem, Omicron is more manageable than its other sibling variants because the chances of becoming severely ill, hospitalised or dying is significantly lower with Omicron.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), more than 98% of local COVID-19 cases since 15 March was due to the BA.2 subvariant.
While it only has minor differences from BA.1.1, Omicron seems to have a better chance at having a breakthrough infection on vaccinated people as well, thus causing the caseload to surge to record highs in March.
There is no need to fret though; the vaccine provides substantial protection against the virus, and getting your booster shots will only ensure your immunity will be more robust.
The MOH is also constantly on the lookout for information regarding new strains and the rate in which variants are circulating within local communities.
Should there be any significant developments, the MOH assures its citizens that they will be dutifully informed.
Thus far, there have been no reported cases of patients with the XE recombinant strain yet, though it’s probably just a matter of time.
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Featured Image: Shutterstock / Mayboon
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