Omicron XE is a recombinant strain of coronavirus, meaning it is a mutant hybrid of previous versions. The latest variant to be detected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is a combination of two previous versions of the Omicron variant – BA.1 and BA.2.
According to reports, the new variant is 10 percent more transmissible than the BA.2 subvariant, which is already the most contagious.
Currently, XE only accounts for a small number of cases, however, scientists have warned it could become the dominant strain in the near future due to its high transmissibility.
The latest report from the WHO, issued on March 31, 2022, states: “The XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2), was first detected in the UK on January 19 and less than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since.
“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation.”
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However, given that it is a mutation of two strains of Omicron, many of the symptoms are likely to be similar.
Speaking previously about Omicron BA.2, Dr Erica Johnson, an internal medicine physician at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore who chairs the Infectious Disease Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine, said the variant’s symptoms were “really similar to the original omicron variant”.
The primary symptoms of a mild BA.1 and BA.2 infection are a cough, fever, fatigue and possible loss of taste or smell.
Some patients also noted a runny nose, gastrointestinal issues, headache and a skin rash.
Lloyds Pharmacy, for example, is selling single tests for £1.89 or a pack of five for £9.29.
The chain is also offering a range of PCR and lateral flow in-store and at-home testing services starting from £12.99.
Boots is also offering lateral flow test kits at a cost of £2 for one test or £9.80 for a pack of five.
From today, Tesco Pharmacy has also confirmed it will be seeing lateral flow test kits in 1,500 stores across the UK, with prices starting at £2.