What we know about hybrid variant COVID – NBC Chicago

The omicron XE hybrid strain, also known as the “Frankenstein” variant, has spread around the world, but should people in Illinois and Chicago be worried?

Here’s an overview of what we know so far:

What is XE?

The XE variant is a recombinant, meaning it has parts of two different variants rearranged into a new virus, which in this case are BA.1, the original omicron strain, and BA.2, known as name of “stealth omicron”.

The recombinant variants themselves aren’t out of the ordinary, according to health officials.

“Recombinant variants are not an unusual occurrence, especially when there are multiple variants in circulation, and several have been identified during the pandemic to date,” Hopkins said. “As with other variant types, most will die fairly quickly.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, XE is currently not monitored by US epidemiologists, nor has it been labeled as a “variant of interest” or a “variant of concern.”

The WHO said it would continue to study the recombinants and provide updates as new evidence becomes available.

Is XE in Chicago or Illinois?

So far, no cases of the XE variant have surfaced in Chicago or Illinois, according to health officials.

During the week of April 3-9, all COVID cases in Chicago were identified as the omicron strain, with approximately 86% of cases reported as BA.2. Nevertheless, no cases of XE have been reported so far, based on CDPH data.

Across Illinois, 99% of COVID cases were of the omicron variant during the week of April 3-9, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, with less than 1% of cases being delta . No cases have been reported to the XE.

An earlier CDPH email said it continues to closely monitor circulating variants and is part of regional and national monitoring efforts.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she was not yet concerned about the new strain.

“Any time you see a new variant emerge, the main thing is that it has…it may have a little edge, maybe a bit more contagious, but no, it’s not one of those variants at this point. which worries me specifically,” she said. “It remains a kind of version of omicron.”

How contagious is XE?

XE may be the fastest-spreading strain to date, according to preliminary research, but studies are underway to determine the exact contagiousness of the variant.

Data showed that XE has a growth rate of 9.8% above BA.2, the UK Health Security Agency revealed in late March.

The World Health Organization has released similar information, citing estimates that show XE is 10% more transmissible than BA.2. However, these findings require further confirmation, the agency noted.

The more contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, but international health experts are placing greater emphasis on a new hybrid variant that may be even more infectious.

BA.2 was previously identified as the most transmissible variant because it spreads about 75% faster than BA.1, according to health officials.

“Whenever there is a more transmissible virus, it has the chance to become the predominant virus in the world,” said Hannah Barbian, genomic epidemiologist at the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab at Rush University Medical Center.

Experts have said COVID vaccines have been effective against all variants that have surfaced, when it comes to preventing hospitalizations and deaths. However, more studies are needed to see what impact vaccines might have on the XE variant.

Why is XE called the “Frankenstein” variant?

Because the variant combines both BA.1 and BA.2 to create XE, some health experts say the two viruses combine in a “Frankenstian” style with a single host.

However, a Chicago expert said recombinant variants, such as the XE strain, are quite common and the name “Frankenstein” could be misleading.

“Recombinants quite often occur naturally with viruses,” said Hannah Barbian, a genomic epidemiologist at the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab at Rush University Medical Center. “So I think Frankenstein is maybe a bit misleading in that it suggests some sort of artificial origin, but recombinant viruses are just a natural process of viral biology.”

What’s happening in the UK and around the world?

XE was first detected in mid-January in the UK, where more than 600 cases have since been reported, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

As of April 5, 1,125 cases of XE had been identified in the UK, up from 637 on March 25. The first confirmed case has a specimen date of January 19 this year, suggesting it could have been circulating in the population for several months.

According to data from the health agency, cases of the new strain have nearly doubled in Britain since it was first detected.

On Tuesday, Japan reported its first case of omicron XE in a woman in her 30s who arrived at Narita International Airport from the United States on March 26. The woman, whose nationality was not immediately disclosed, was asymptomatic, Japan’s health ministry said Monday. .

XE has since been detected in Thailand, India and Israel. These latest Israeli cases are suspected to have developed independently. The United States has yet to report any cases of XE.

NBC Chicago

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button