Just when it seemed like we had overcome the COVID19 pandemic, a new hybrid virus has reemerged.
The hybrid of two Omicron strains (BA.1 & BA.2) was first discovered in the United States by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a report published in Bloomberg on Monday. The new variant is named XE and could potentially be the so far most transmissible variant yet, as it is stipulated that it can be spread 10% more easily than BA.2.
In addition, authorities in China have reported two completely new Omicron subvariants that do not match any existing sequence. What does this mean for the world?
A possible threat to the rest of the world
“If the efforts of the Chinese authorities to compel transmission are ineffective against a highly and highly transmitted virus, such as an Omicron variant, this could become a threat to the rest of the world,” said Bloomberg Rajeev Venkayya, the CEO of drugmaker Aerium Therapeutics Inc. and a former White House biodefense adviser.
“We know that uncontrolled transmission of the virus can lead to greater viral evolution and evolution around vaccines & therapeutics,” potentially making them less effective, he added.
Fortunately, the number of infections from these new variants is insignificant, especially compared to the number of outbreaks that are still occurring around the world. In addition, many variations were emerged throughout the pandemic and then go nowwhere, which could be the case with XE.
Responding to vaccines?
It was reported last month that latest variant (the BA.2) was still responsive to vaccines. White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, has warned of a highly contagious omicron variant of COVID called BA.2, but has reassured the public that currently available vaccines & boosters could protect against it.
“It has a higher transmission capacity,” Fauci said at the time. “However, if you look at the cases, they don’t seem to be more severe and they don’t seem to evade immune responses either from previous vaccines or infections. ” he added.
It is still too early to tell how XE and other hybrid viruses will react to vaccines.