According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.9 million people in Britain, or 1 in 13, were infected with Covid-19 by March 26 – a record high since the survey began in April 2020.
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LONDON – A new Omicron sub-variant has been identified in the UK as the country faces a resurgence in Covid-19 hospital admissions.
According to the latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency, the XE variant, as it is known, has so far been detected in 637 patients across the country, stating that there is currently insufficient evidence to judge its contagion or severity.
The XE contains a mix of the previously highly contagious Omicron BA.1 strain, which appeared in late 2021, and the new “stealth” BA.2 variant, now the dominant form in the UK.
This is known as a “recombinant”, a type of variant that can occur when a person is infected by two or more variants at the same time, resulting in a mixture of their genetic material in the patient’s body.
The transmissibility, intensity of XE is not yet final
Such recombinants are not uncommon, occurring several times during the coronavirus epidemic.
Data on the severity of the new variant and its ability to avoid the vaccine are not yet clear, although initial estimates suggest that it may be more contagious than the previous strain.
UKHSA data shows that the growth rate of XE is 9.8% higher than that of BA.2, while the World Health Organization has so far kept this figure at 10%.
Health officials said they were monitoring the situation.
“This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a real growth benefit. So far there is not enough evidence to decide on infectivity, severity or efficacy of the vaccine,” said the UKHSA’s chief medical adviser. Professor Dr. Dr. Susan Hopkins.
Samples of the first confirmed XE cases in the UK date to 19 January this year, suggesting that it had been prevalent in the population for months. It has also been detected in Thailand outside the UK.
This comes when the UK is facing a new surge in infections. Still, the XE variant is currently responsible for less than 1% of all covid cases that have genomic sequencing there.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.9 million people in Britain, or 1 in 13 people, became infected with covid as of March 26 – the record highest since the survey began in April 2020. Meanwhile, hospital admissions have increased by more than 7%. More than 16,500 last week.
Older adults have been shown to be particularly sensitive to recent waves in reducing booster immunity and easing covid restrictions.
According to a recent response survey from Imperial College, an estimated 8.31% of people over the age of 55 tested positive at the end of March – about 20 times the average prevalence recorded since the survey began in May 2020. In the case of children and adolescents, meanwhile, the plateau appears to be.
The results mark the 19th and final round of the study because the Covid restriction and surveillance system is intact in the UK and beyond.
The British government on Friday moved ahead with plans to close two virus surveys and reduce a third. Meanwhile, in the early days of the epidemic, two pioneers in research and vaccines, Israel and Denmark, dramatically reduced testing.
Covid data scaling can make predicting back growth and making new forms more difficult to understand.
It comes as China – itself in the midst of its latest wave that has seen Shanghai enter an extended lockdown – has also recorded a new variant labeled BA.1.1.
The variant does not match other covid types sequenced in China or has been reported in the Global Variant Database, and a light covid case was found in Suzhou, a town near Shanghai.