Omicron: New XE variant more transmissible than previous variants

Dr Hilary Jones explains nine new symptoms of Covid

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Meanwhile, Omicron XE features elements of Omicron BA.1 and Omicron BA.2 (Stealth Omicron).

The concern with Omicron XE is that it appears to be more transmissible than Omicron BA.2 – a variant that is in turn more transmissible than Omicron BA.1, the original variant of Omicron that spread through the country in the latter half of last year.

First detected on January 19th the WHO (World Health Organisation) report said: “Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent 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.”

Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSCA) showed XE was just under 10 percent more transmissible than Omicron BA.2.

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

According to the HSCA, just 637 cases of XE have been detected in England.

This makes up only a tiny proportion of cases recorded so far.

Meanwhile, nine new COVID-19 symptoms have been added to the NHS’s list of symptoms.

The original symptoms listed by the NHS were a fever, a new continuous cough, and a loss of sense of taste and smell.

However, as the virus has developed, so too has scientist’s understanding of the symptoms it causes.

The list now includes:
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling tired or exhausted
• Aching body
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Blocked or runny nose
• Loss of appetite
• Diarrhoea
• Feeling sick or being sick.

The update to this list comes at a time when just shy of five million people in the UK have COVID-19, almost the same number of people with diabetes.

While Covid infections are at their highest, the Government has taken the decision to lift all restrictions.

This includes the legal requirement to self-isolate if positive with the virus.

Scientists and doctors have been critical of this decision as the Government has provided no evidence to back up this move.

New Government guidance advises people to stay at home if they’re positive and for young people to avoid going into school or socialising if they have a cough or cold.

Meanwhile, as Covid cases continue to rise so too will hospitalisations from the virus, stretching an NHS even further.

As hospitalisations rise so will deaths from the virus.

So far around 188,000 people have died from the virus; a number greater than the population of Hammersmith and Fulham.

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