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WHO says new virus strain ‘XE’ could be most contagious so far

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Russia registers nasal version of Sputnik V
COVID in UK at record levels

SWITZERLAND,RUSSIA,UK: Just as the coronavirus pandemic seemed to be on a declining phase after having wreaked havoc across the world over the past two years, a new mutant strain has been reported, raising fears of yet another COVID-19 wave. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now warned of a new subvariant – ‘XE’ – a hybrid strain of two Omicron sub variants.

According to the global health body, early studies indicate this could be the most transmissible coronavirus strain so far, with a growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2, one of the very contagious variants.

The Omicron variant, which had driven the third wave in India, comprises four lineages, including B.1.1.529, BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3.

“The XE recombinant was first detected in the United Kingdom on 19 January and >600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since,” read the WHO report.

“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of ~10% as compared to BA.2, however this finding requires further confirmation,” it added.

The WHO had earlier said that it was continuing to monitor the spread of Omicron and its “stealth” version BA.2, which has been documented to have re-infected some people after an initial case of Omicron.

The XD strain was first found in December 2021 and has since mostly been found in France, Denmark and Belgium, according to reports. The XF mutant has only been detected in the United Kingdom so far. The more concerning XE, has been identified in at least 637 cases in Britain so far.

Meanwhile, The Russian Health Ministry has registered the nasal version of its COVID-19 jab, Sputnik V, which is said to be the world’s first nasal vaccine against the virus.

“Russian Health Ministry registers the nasal version of Sputnik V, the world’s first nasal vaccine against Covid-19,” Sputnik V wrote on Twitter.

In January, the Russian news agency TASS reported that the nasal vaccine against COVID-19 will be in civil circulation and available for Russians in three to four months.

Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the Gamaleya Centre, had earlier told the agency that it will be efficient against the new Omicron coronavirus strain.

“Laboratory tests show the Sputnik V [coronavirus vaccine] protects against the Omicron (strain) in its ordinary injection form, and it will certainly be efficient in the nasal form,” Gintsburg had said.

Meanwhile, The prevalence of COVID-19 in the U.K. has reached record levels, with about 1 in 13 people estimated to be infected with the virus in the past week, latest figures from Britain’s official statistics agency showed.

Some 4.9 million people were estimated to have the coronavirus in the week ending March 26, up from 4.3 million recorded in the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said Friday, The latest surge is driven by the more transmissible omicron variant BA.2, which is the dominant variant across the U.K.


Monday, April 4, 2022 – 01:00

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